Access to clean, reliable power will be a key feature of the proposed $1billion Canberra data centre project, announced last week. Construction of this centre is likely to have major implications for Federal agencies, and for companies planning to offer data centre services to both public sector and corporate clients.
The Canberra Technology City (CTC) consortium is led by Canberra-based utility provider ActewAGL and partners Galileo Connect, a specialist data centre company based in the UK (responsible for over 1 million square metres of data centre development) and investor, Technical Real Estate.
The data centre project is not designed specifically for the Federal Government market, or even the Australian market. It is being marketed to local enterprises, and multinational companies in South-East Asia, where backup sites and additional capacity are in short supply.
Canberra will potentially provide an ideal location given its well established technology industry and ready availability of infrastructure. However there may be some short term challenges as the ICT skills shortage continues to test existing Canberra projects.
There is already a shortage of data centre facilities to meet the demands of Federal Government agencies, and a number of suppliers have been positioning themselves to fill the gap in capacity. Much of these plans have been for facilities primarily designed primarily to meet the needs of Canberra-based agencies. It is unclear what the effect on the local market might be of the proposed mega centre.
This project is in response to a growing worldwide demand for data centres, at the same time as existing centres are having trouble with power supply. The CTC consortium claims that through design efficiencies, and by sourcing power from a gas-fired generator, this new centre will appeal to the increasing demand for more environmentally friendly power for computing operations.
The proposed centre will be constructed as prefabricated modular pods, 20 at Hume and 10 supplementary ones at Belconnen (a total of 130,000sqm), each costing around $70million. This construction approach is aimed at enabling quick incremental growth and flexible arrangements for potential customers.
The proposed mega data centre would be so big that the consortium is proposing to source its own power. A feature of the proposal will be the provision of gas turbines by ActewAGL to power the sites. This approach aims to deliver reliable power at a rate of 1500 watts per square metre and will be scalable up to 4500 watts per square metre. This is more than double the capacity of some existing data centres. The centres will use CO2 cooling to reduce power consumption by about 30% in comparison to traditional air cooled plants. The availability of on site power is expected to eliminate traditional electricity transmission loss and contribute to carbon footprint savings by 10-15%. Excess power capacity will be sold back to the grid.