Meridian, Datagrid to build hyperscale data centre in NZ
Meridian Energy, the New Zealand-based power generation firm, is partnering with Datagrid to build the country’s first hyperscale data centre. The facility will be located near Invercargill in the Southland region.
, the new facility will have an IT load capacity of 60 MW, spread across 25,000 square metres of whitespace, with the potential to scale up to 100 MW across 40,000 square metres over the next four years. The project has an estimated value of around $700mn.
Construction is reportedly already underway, with the area’s cool climate, affordable real estate and access to renewable energy resources making it the ideal location for such a project.
Datagrid is a relatively new firm, currently being headed by Hawaiki Cable founder Remi Galasso and Callplus founder Malcolm Dick.
In a press release, Galasso noted that the New Zealand data centre industry is currently underserved. “The only hyperscale data centre currently servicing New Zealand is based in Australia, but Southland’s climate makes it 15% cheaper to power a data centre of this size compared with Australia. These savings, along with New Zealand’s well-educated workforce and long term political stability make Southland highly attractive as a location for global companies to safely store their data,” he said.
Until now, a lack of submarine cable infrastructure has prevented New Zealand from developing the levels of connectivity that would support hyperscale data centres. However, Dick notes that, “with the arrival of the Hawaiki Cable in 2018 that barrier can finally be lifted.”
As part of the Datagrid hyperscale project, the two firms are laying a new submarine cable to connect Invercargill with the Australian East Coast, delivering latencies of around 24 milliseconds between the two countries.
The cable will, Galasso says, give the new data centre access to a serviceable market of around 20mn people across New Zealand, Victoria, New South Wales and parts of Queensland.
Datagrid and Meridian hope that the new data centre’s emphasis on renewable power generation and connectivity will be enough to attract hyperscale cloud partners like Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Meridian Energy’s General Manager of Generation and Natural Resources, Guy Waipara, commented that “A low-emissions data centre is a huge opportunity for Southland and all of New Zealand to leverage our abundant clean energy to create high-value jobs and diversify our economy even more into the digital space.”
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.