UK-based global energy project developer SIMEC Atlantis has announced its plans for a tidal-powered data centre in the Caithness region of Scotland.

The power supply for this data centre will include electricity supplied from tidal turbines at the existing MeyGen tidal energy project site via a private wire network. The centre will also be powered by tidal turbines manufactured in Scotland.

SIMEC Atlantis has been working with engineering company AECOM to determine the feasibility of connecting the data centre to high-speed international fibre optics.

AECOM will also work on the systems design for the centre, which has a target      operation date of 2024, in line with MeyGen’s plans to add a further 80 megawatts (MW) of tidal capacity to its array. However, SIMEC Atlantis notes that a smaller initial data centre that draws on MeyGen’s existing 6MW tidal array could be deployed sooner.

The centre would be the world’s first tidal-powered data centre, potentially offering “fast and reliable” connections to London, Europe and the US via multiple international subsea fibre optic cables. The centre could also improve Scottish data and connectivity resilience through the use of domestic terrestrial networks.

SIMEC Atlantis CEO Tim Cornelius said: “Data is being touted as the new oil. It is arguably becoming the world’s most valuable resource, and the amount of data requiring storage is increasing at a staggering pace. However, data centres are undeniably power hungry, and the clients of data centre operators are rightly demanding power be sourced from renewable and sustainable sources.

“This exciting project represents the marriage of a world leading renewable energy project in MeyGen with a data centre operator that seeks to provide its clients with a large amount of computing power, powered from a sustainable and reliable source – the ocean.”

The data centre could alleviate constraints on local renewable energy developments, which are restricted by the closure of subsidy mechanisms and current grid capacity. Development of the centre is also intended to provide an alternate pathway for the next development phase of the MeyGen project without relying on the UK government’s current renewable energy infrastructure.

Cornelius said: “At MeyGen we have many of the ingredients to provide clean power to the data centre, including a large grid connection agreement, proximity to international fibre optic connections and persistent cool weather.

“We also believe that Scotland can play a key role in the global data centre industry thanks to its ready access to clean energy and we are eager to play our part at Atlantis to turn this potential into reality.”