Google invests in its first UK data centre

Google’s first UK data centre is currently being built in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.

The billion-dollar investment seeks to support the needs of British and European customers and help power digital services such as Google Cloud and artificial intelligence (AI). 

The 33-acre site, located north of London, was purchased in 2020. It will be constructed with the aim of running on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030. The tech giant plans to operate the data centre at nearly 90% carbon-free energy in 2025, which is when construction is anticipated to be completed, before ultimately meeting the company’s net zero goals. 

In 2022, Google announced its long-term power purchase agreement with ENGIE, which will provide 100 MW of clean, renewable energy for Google’s UK operations. This, coupled with the facility’s planned off-site heat recovery and air-based cooling system aims to reduce the carbon impact of Google’s digital infrastructure. 

This investment follows other key efforts from the company to expand its presence in the UK. Google previously made a $1 billion purchase of a Central Saint Giles office in 2022 and a one million square ft. development in King’s Cross. Similarly, an Accessibility Discovery Centre opened two years ago to encourage technological innovation that is more accessible and user-friendly. 

Google’s latest expansion in the UK market also comes after fellow US tech firm Microsoft announced its commitment to invest £2.5 billion over the next three years to bolster and grow its AI data centre infrastructure. Competition between the two tech firms is bolstering the UK’s tech sector, driving economic growth and technological innovation. 

The new Hertfordshire facility alone will create new construction and technical jobs. Google already has more than 7,000 employees in Britain and plans to hire engineers, project managers, security personnel, and other professionals. 

As the AI arms race gains traction, the UK’s AI infrastructure and development will continue to grow. Tech giants seeking a greater foothold in Europe are fueling Britain’s tech economy and expediting the transition to the use of AI in different sectors. 

The UK’s National AI Strategy involves investing in AI infrastructure to maintain the UK’s status as a global superpower in AI, supporting the use of AI in multiple sectors, and ensuring the proper use of AI for innovation while protecting the safety and security of the public.  

The UK government has welcomed these recent investments into the digital economy and tech sector. Google’s new data centre, alongside other investments, will scale up the capacity for AI and cloud services, as well as the computing capacity for businesses. 

The series of investments set forth by Google demonstrate a dedication to meet growing technological demand. This overlaps with the UK’s goals to become a global leader in technology. 

The new data centre has the ability to further propel the UK forward in reaping the benefits of the new digital age and its transformative technology.

Image Credit: Paul Hanaoka vis Unsplash

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