Google building datacenter campus on the outskirts of London

Waltham Cross bit barn part of Alphabet's plans for 'future capacity needs'

Google has commenced construction of a $1 billion datacenter complex on the outskirts of London it says is needed to provide a reliable service to Google Cloud customers and users of Google in the UK.

The latest datacenter is based on a 33 acre site north of London at Waltham Cross, not far from the M25 motorway that encircles the capital city. Google acquired the land in October 2020.

This datacenter campus is understood to be the first in the UK to be owned and operated by Google itself. However, the Chocolate Factory is giving little detail away about its plans for the location, declining to confirm how many datacenter buildings the campus will comprise, how much total floor space it will have, or how much IT infrastructure it will have capacity for.

A spokesperson told The Register that it’s simply too early to say, as the company has only just started the build. It seems unlikely that any company would start a complex project like a datacenter facility without knowing how much infrastructure they need to fit inside it.

Construction is expected to last until sometime in 2025 before the bit barn will be made operational, Google said.

The reason for adding this additional DC is increasing demand, Google told us. As use of Google’s services increases, capacity must likewise grow in response. “We are always planning for future capacity needs and we want to be sure that we have options to continue to support the growing demand for our online services."

When asked why this location, Google told us it invests “where we see the demand for our services. The UK has long been a leading digital economy and is well placed to be a leader in AI.”

Google has operated in the UK for more than 20 years, and the org currently employs upwards of 7,000 people in the country.

“This investment builds upon our St Giles and Kings Cross office developments, our multi-year research collaboration agreement with the University of Cambridge, and the Grace Hopper subsea cable that connects the UK with the United States and Spain,” Ruth Porat, Chief Financial Officer of Google’s parent company Alphabet said in a statement.

Porat claimed the development would bring “crucial compute capacity to businesses across the UK” while creating construction and technical jobs in the local area.

Google claimed its new facility will be ready for off-site heat recovery, capturing waste heat that can be used to benefit the local community.

It also aims to have its entire UK operations running from about 90 percent carbon-free energy in 2025, partly thanks to a power purchase agreement with energy company ENGIE for 100 MW of electricity generated by the Moray West wind farm in Scotland. ®

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