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Google to build $1 billion data centre in UK

Tech giant Google will invest $1 billion into a new data centre in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.

Andrew Wooden

January 19, 2024

2 Min Read

The 33-acre site will generate some construction and technical jobs for the local community, says Google, and once complete will provide compute capacity to businesses across the UK – which will support ‘AI innovation’ and ensure ‘reliable digital services’ to Google Cloud customers and Google users.

The UK a ‘key country’ for Google’s business, it says, and a ‘pioneering world leader in AI, technology and science’ to boot. The construction of this new data centre follows the development of Google’s new offices with the $1 billion purchase of its  Central Saint Giles office in 2022, a 1 million square foot ‘innovation hub’ in King's Cross, and a Accessibility Discovery Centre — ‘which aims to spur the creation of accessible tech for the whole of the UK.’

“People and businesses in every corner of the UK rely on data centres to power helpful services like Search, Maps, YouTube, Workspace and Google Cloud,” said Debbie Weinstein, Vice President of Google and Managing Director of Google UK & Ireland, in the blog announcing the move. “As more people tap into the opportunities created by the country’s digital economy and we unlock new ways for AI-powered technologies to boost productivity, fuel creativity, improve health outcomes and unlock scientific discoveries, it’s vital that we invest in the technical infrastructure needed to support innovation and tech-led growth.”

As with almost every technology announcement there is the obligatory nod towards sustainability – though in this case it takes up more than half of the announcement. Google boasts its data centres are some of the most efficient in the world, and it has a goal to run all of them plus its campuses on ‘carbon-free energy' (CFE), every hour of every day by 2030.’

In pursuit of this, Google signed a power purchase agreement with ENGIE for offshore wind energy generated by the Moray West wind farm in Scotland in 2022. This agreement will add 100 MW of energy to the grid, and put Google’s UK operations ‘on track’ to operate at or near 90% carbon-free energy in 2025, we’re told.

Data centres chug out a lot of heat, but this new facility will have provisions for ‘off-site heat recovery’. This presents an opportunity for ‘energy conservation that benefits the local community’, says Google, namely using the heat generated by the data centre to be used by nearby homes and businesses.

“Our commitment to sustainability is one of the reasons that British born customers like Rightmove choose Google for their cloud computing needs,” continued Weinstein.Having migrated their services to Google Cloud to further their own sustainability goals, Rightmove sees Google's commitment to decarbonize and build sustainable data centres as a crucial element in reducing the carbon impact of their digital infrastructure and helping them on their net-zero journey.”

Here’s a ‘flythrough’ video that looks like a racing game circa 2007 demonstrating what it will look like.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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