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Google to invest $1B for new data centre in the UK to boost AI growth, create jobs

Picture credits: alexeynovikov/DepositPhotos

Tech giant Google has announced it has started building a new data centre in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire at an investment of $1 billion in the UK. The announcement was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2024.

The new UK facility 

The new Google data centre will be located on a 33-acre site that Google purchased in October 2020. Once complete, it will help ensure reliable digital services to Google Cloud customers and Google users in the UK

Google has been operating in the UK for over 20 years and employs over 7,000 people in the country. The new data centre will help Google to continue to grow its business in the UK and Europe. According to 2023 independent research, Google in the UK drives over £118 billion in economic activity.

Google’s data centres help power popular digital services such as Google Cloud, Workspace (which includes Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and more), Search, and Maps for people and organisations worldwide. The Alphabet-owned company’s continued investment in technical infrastructure, including its data centres plays a critical role in supporting the company’s AI innovations and growing cloud needs in the UK.

Furthermore, the new facility will be ready for off-site heat recovery. Capturing data centre heat represents an opportunity for energy conservation and can benefit the local community. The data centre will deploy an air-based cooling solution.

Net-zero emissions 

Google is pursuing net-zero emissions across its operations and value chain by 2030, supported by an ambitious goal to run all of its data centres and campuses on carbon-free energy (CFE), every hour of every day. In support of this goal, Google announced a power purchase agreement with ENGIE for offshore wind energy generated by the Moray West wind farm in Scotland in 2022. This agreement adds 100 MW of carbon-free energy to the grid and puts Google’s UK operations on track to operate at or near 90% carbon-free energy in 2025.

“People and organisations worldwide rely on Google’s data centres daily for the digital services they use,” said Ruth Porat, President & Chief Investment Officer, Chief Financial Officer of Alphabet and Google. “The Waltham Cross data centre represents our latest investment in the UK and the wider digital economy at large. This investment builds upon our Saint 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. This new data centre will help meet growing demand for our AI and cloud services and bring crucial compute capacity to businesses across the UK while creating construction and technical jobs for the local community. Together with the UK government, we are working to make AI more helpful and accessible for people and organisations across the country.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The UK is a fantastic place to invest, and Google’s $1 billion investment is a testament to the fact that the UK is a centre of excellence in technology and has huge growth potential. Foreign investment creates jobs and grows all regions of our economy and investments like this will help to drive growth in the decade ahead. I will continue to back businesses to invest and innovate here in the UK.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “From business conducted online to advancements in healthcare, every growing economy relies on data centres. Our country is no different and this major $1 billion investment from Google is a huge vote of confidence in Britain as the largest tech economy in Europe, bringing with it good jobs and the infrastructure we need to support the industries of the future.”

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, said: “By basing their new data centre on our shores, Google are providing British businesses, including our bustling start-ups, with more reliable access to some of the world’s leading cloud technology, underpinning their innovation and success. That is not to mention the $1 billion investment will also bring forward a new wave of opportunities and skilled jobs. The UK is already home to some of the world’s leading lights across science and technology, today’s announcement further cements our status as a global destination for innovation.”

Councillor Lewis Cocking, Leader of Broxbourne Council said: “I am delighted that Google has chosen Broxbourne for its new data centre. This is a sign of Broxbourne’s growing importance as a hub for technology and innovation. Through this development and others, this part of the Borough is attracting millions of pounds of investment which will improve the local economy and create thousands of jobs. The Council is committed to working with our partners to make this, and other developments, a great success for everyone involved.”

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