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The evolving data centre construction market

Earlier this month, our founder, Alex Reid spoke to Capacity Magazine about the data centre construction industry, and how government policy is shifting to focus on sustainable development.

In case you missed the original article, you can catch up below.

How are data centre companies mitigating the above circumstances regarding their expansion plans?

Government policy is shifting to focus on sustainable development, and currently the London plan notes that major developments should be zero carbon by 2050. However, this is for regulated demands only, and there is a push for non-regulated demands (such as server racks) to be included, thus altering how data centres are developed.

In response, data centre providers are developing alternative cooling strategies to impact the PUE and extract waste heat, WUE (Water Usage Effectiveness) has been highlighted, smart buildings and flexible energy is being embraced, UPS suppliers are offering spare battery capacity options to supply back to the grid with a push for lithium-ion, and gas boiler options in lieu of diesel generators are being investigated.

In France, almost all data centres in France are built in concrete, therefore the impact of the rise in steel costs has a minimal affect – however, we expect to see this affecting the UK soon. What we are seeing, in mainland Europe, is a tightening of the environmental constraints around the sites – notably in terms of the reuse of waste heat, the minimum use of water for cooling, and locations on greenfield sites. As a result, this puts enormous pressure on the feasibility studies of such constructions.

What is the state of the data centre construction industry in terms of the availability of skills, is the skills shortage getting worse in some markets?

There is a real shortage of data centre ME engineers for the volume of current and projects – particularly in France – with a deepening recruitment crisis on the horizon.

Regarding perceived power shortages/potential power shortages in some markets, what are data centre firms doing to alleviate any threats regarding energy technology and energy contracts?

The shortage has increased land value in areas with a guaranteed supply. Therefore, providers are pushing to purchase multiple sites to ensure future supply – a ‘land grab’ if you will… In France, we are seeing companies paying the fees as quickly as possible, in a bid to reserve the power supplies.

The main European data centre markets of London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Dublin are now facing serious competition from elsewhere in Europe, are construction factors connected to power availability and tighter planning requirements coming into play here?

Population density is very high and land availability is at a premium in London, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt but you didn’t mention Paris – which may be the competition you talk about in the question.

So far, the French nuclear power stations appear to remain capable of providing the required power levels, however the increased environmental criteria is making data centre projects more of a challenge.

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