Renewables make Australia a likely seat for global data” Analyst

Australia’s Growing Sources of Renewable Energy Open the Door to a Future as the World’s Most Secure Repository for Big Tech Data

John Lucas, strategist at Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a specialist net-zero investment manager, said Australia has the opportunity to be a major player in green energy data centers in Asia-Pacific.

“If we look at the resources that Australia has – the strong data sovereignty laws that are in place, its position in the current geopolitical climate around the world – it’s a very strong contender,” he said. told AAP during a visit to the United States.

“What we’ve been dealing with a lot lately, from an ESG (environmental, social and governance) perspective, is understanding where it all comes from,” he says.

“Where are all the components that go into this infrastructure, renewable energy and security in the supply chain?”

The data would be transmitted under the sea from the United States to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, opening up job opportunities and a new industry, Mr Lucas said.

South Korea is a key regional rival, but must find large amounts of energy to power and cool new data centers.

Data Center Operator Empyrion DC Develops 40 Megawatt Green Data Center in Gangnam; Digital Edge has a 120MW project in the Asian country and ST Telemedia Global Data Centers unveiled a 30MW development in June, according to research by Fitch Solutions.

Safe and secure

Quinbrook’s $2.5bn, 800MW Supernode project in Brisbane is attracting calls from Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix looking for a secure place to send massive amounts of data.

“Going forward, with ESG increasingly at the forefront of business and government agendas, we expect more data centers to focus on sustainable operations,” Fitch Solutions said in its report.

Australia may be lagging behind South Korea’s digital adoption and its massive investments in artificial intelligence (AI), the Korean Metaverse (K-Metaverse) and 5G.

But, connected to vital undersea cables, Australia stands to benefit from the demand for data centers that new technologies will bring to Asia-Pacific and North America.

“By 2025, for all major data center operators, their cloud must be 100% renewable,” says Lucas.

“By 2030, their cloud must be net zero or some form of net zero, or even carbon negative.”

Big players such as Microsoft, which have a strong partnership with Australia’s Telstra, are beginning to consider the future data center pipeline.

Asked by AAP about the outlook for big data, Telstra’s outgoing chief executive Andy Penn said there are opportunities for Australia’s biggest telecoms company.

“It’s certainly an area we’re investing in,” Mr Penn said after speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra.

Microsoft Alliance

A recent deal with Microsoft will see them become a key tenant in Telstra’s new inter-capital direct fiber network between capital cities, to transmit data in and out of the cloud and their data center.

But running large-scale mega data and telecommunications centers also requires a lot of energy.

“So it’s a challenge,” says Penn.

“But the flip side is that people doing things digitally, in general, are compensating for doing things physically, which has a compensating impact on the environment.”

Quinbrook’s Lucas says cleaner economy goals are also driven by customers using data centers.

“They want their cloud load to meet their own sustainability requirements for their business,” he says.

“That’s what really puts Australia first.

“There is an opportunity to create a market and continue to grow in renewables and power to meet those 100% renewable and net zero needs.”

The Supernode project integrates renewable energy and large-scale battery energy storage and is close to the heart of Queensland’s electricity grid with high capacity connections already approved.

It can also take advantage of a new submarine cable with a landing station at Maroochydore in Queensland, providing Australia with a link to governments and industries in the Americas, which must send their data in a safe place.

Queensland’s first direct international data and telecommunications connection to world markets provides the fastest international connection point from eastern Australia to Asia, according to the state government.

A 550 km fiber optic submarine cable connects the Sunshine Coast to the 7,000 km Japan-Guam-South Australia submarine cable.

The 30-hectare Supernode site in Brendale will intersect with the new Torus dark fiber data cable currently under construction which will link Brisbane directly to the international cable landed at Maroochydore this year.

The growing impact of renewable energy

“Infrastructure like this, coupled with the ability to continue to develop a renewable energy industry in Australia, really helps give this market a bit of a head start in the region,” Lucas said.

From a career perspective, data centers and their 20+ year lifespan as assets could be an attractive option for many Australians seeking employment outside of high-intensity manufacturing. intensity of emissions or coal and gas extraction.

But it’s important for data centers to work with the communities around them and the work that supports them, says Lucas.

“Not just building and hiring and bringing people in, but helping develop those skills locally,” he explains.

“The other thing you’ll see is that usually you don’t see a data center being built and then that’s it, normally there will be follow-ups and that helps drive growth and develop jobs and skills.”

The centers will need construction and maintenance workers, as well as data engineers.

There must also be a large transmission building, as well as backup generation and energy storage.

“Australia already has a lot of these capabilities – there are only a few tweaks to apply them to data centers,” says Lucas.

-with AAP

Sean N. Ayres