A detailed plan with regard to setting up of a data centre near Clyde, backed by Contact Energy have been submitted to Central Otago District Council.
Contact Energy and its wholly-owned subsidiary Simply Energy would supply renewable electricity for a data centre being developed near the Clyde Dam by UK-based digital infrastructure company Lake Parime.
The agreement signed with Lake Parime was for Contact to supply 10MW of renewable electricity to operate the planned low-emissions data centre, according to a report in Otago Daily Times. The data centre will be located south of the Clyde Dam, alongside the Clutha River.
That is roughly the equivalent of the power used by 10,000 homes. Lake Parime designs, builds and operates High-Performance Computing (HPC) systems.
Further, Lake Parime are working with the team at Simply Energy to implement demand flexibility technology to ramp the data centre’s operations up and down depending on New Zealand’s electricity needs, weather and hydro generation water flows.
“We work with renewable energy operators to provide sustainable computing infrastructure for users of HPC applications such as Machine Learning, Blockchain, Visualisation, Modelling and Artificial Intelligence.”
Simply Energy director Murray Dyer said the data centre’s electricity load would respond continuously.
“We need to ensure New Zealand’s energy needs continue to be met as demand for renewable energy increases, and as more of our energy is sourced from intermittent renewables like wind and solar.”
Mike Fuge, chief executive, Contact said that New Zealand’s high levels of renewable electricity and the lower South Island’s cooler climate were appealing to data centre operators.
Demand for data centres is growing in New Zealand, which is currently being serviced by companies based in Australia.
“Also, there are environmental and economic advantages to being in this part of the world. We expect to see increasing interest from global companies looking for secure, clean, renewable energy sources. This is the first announced project from our pipeline, as we pursue our target to secure over 300 megawatts of market-backed demand opportunities in the lower South Island, reducing New Zealand’s reliance on the Tiwai smelter given its expected closure at the end of 2024.”
“And of course, the demand flexibility aspect is aligned with our decarbonisation aspirations as it will reduce the volume of thermal generation needed to back up the national grid in a dry year,” he added.
The company has a range of activities planned to reduce any impact of the data centre. “This includes landscaping, paint colours, night lighting control and design to reduce visual impact and absorb noise,” Dyer said.