Datagrid New Zealand has received the go-ahead from the Overseas Investment Office to acquire 43 hectares of land in Southland to build a $1 billion hyperscale data centre build project.
Based in Makarewa, north of the South Island’s Invercargill, the first phase of construction is expected to begin later this year on what could be the biggest data centre in Aotearoa. “The 43 hectares of land is big enough to build up to 15 modules of 10 MW / 6,500 m2 each, meaning a total potential capacity of 150 MW,” Datagrid founder and Chairman Rémi Galasso told CRN.
The announcement of this project was originally announced in December 2020 after a detailed discussion on utilising the natural benefits of the region. “The two main advantages of the Southland region for data centres are obviously its resource of renewable energy and its pretty cool temperatures with an annual average of 9.8 degrees.”
The cool temperatures mean less need for energy-hungry cooling technologies, meaning a cheaper and lower-emission facility overall that, will allow the facility to become “the first carbon-neutral data centre in Australia / New Zealand, stated Galasso. “We can achieve it thanks to the abundance of hydropower in NZ’s South Island. Data centre users are keener and keener to select zero-emission data storage solutions, so we think there is significant business potential,” pointed out Galasso.
He said that while these advantages have long been known, the missing part has always been the lack of international connectivity, which can be solved with international fibre optic submarine cables. “Let me tell you Invercargill is not at the end of the world, it’s actually perfectly well located to become a strategic gateway between South East Asia and South America,” Galasso said.
In December 2020, Meridian Energy, the New Zealand-based power generation firm, has entered into a partnership with Datagrid to build the country’s first hyperscale data centre. The facility will also be located near Invercargill in the Southland region.
The data centre site in the Southland region was selected after due diligence with partner Aecom, an infrastructure consulting firm, due to its low risk of flood and earthquakes, as well as its proximity to the powergrid. “Datagrid land meets Tier 4 classification criteria, the best possible ranking in terms of security for a data centre,” said Galasso.
Datagrid first built 15,000 km Hawaiki cable in 2018, connecting Mangawhai in Northland New Zealand to both Australia and USA. “We’re now going to build 22,000 km Hawaiki Nui connecting NZ regions of Southland, Otago and Canterbury to Australia, South East Asia and USA,” said Galasso.