Google buys land to potentially house its first UK data centre

LaToya Harding
·2 min read
Google has acquired a 33 acre property north of London for potential data centre development. Photo: Reuter/Francois Lenoir
Google has acquired a 33 acre property north of London for potential data centre development. Photo: Reuter/Francois Lenoir

Google has bought a plot of land north of London that could potentially accommodate its first UK data centre.

The 33-acre plot would potentially be located in Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, CityAm first reported. No other Google infrastructure would require a site as large.

The Silicon Valley tech giant, owned by Alphabet (GOOG) has just seven data centres outside the United States, with a total of five in Europe.

These processing sites house thousands of servers and drives, and provide the infrastructure for Google’s services across the world. They allow Google to provide search engine, cloud computing, and other Web-based services.

According to an Oxford Economics report in 2016, the firm’s then-six data centres in the US provided jobs for as many as 11,000 people. At the time they also generated $1.3 bn (£1bn) in economic activity and $750m in labour income.

The firm has committed to ensure all their sites, which require large amounts of power for cooling and to maintain ambient temperatures, are powered by renewable energy.

A Google spokesperson said: “We have acquired a 33 acre property north of London for potential data centre development.

“While we do not have a confirmed timeline for development for the site, we want to ensure that we have the option to further grow, should our business demand it. We don’t expect to take any decision on this in the near future.”

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It comes as global spending on data centres reached £23.5bn for the first half of this year, according to a report from property adviser Knight Frank and sector specialist DC Byte.

The amount is more than six times the £3.9bn annual average and an increase on the £1.56bn spent in the same period in 2019.

The report examined data centre developments across 12 European markets including London and Dublin, predicting that demand for the facilities will continue to increase.

The research identified Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Dublin as ‘gigawatt markets’ – locations where the computing power is expected to exceed 1,000 megawatts in the next three years.

Madrid, Copenhagen and Warsaw were earmarked as the fastest-growing European markets, as Google, Facebook and Apple continue to develop smaller clusters of data centres in these locations.

Stephen Beard, Knight Frank partner and head of EMEA and APAC Data Centres, said: “We predict that the sector will only continue to grow in importance, particularly given the increased remote working and digitisation of companies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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