Google has unveiled a plan to invest $1 billion in a new data center in the United Kingdom, aiming to cater to the increasing demands for its artificial intelligence and cloud services. The new facility, spanning 33 acres in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, is expected to enhance computing power for businesses, fostering AI advancements and ensuring consistent digital services across Google Cloud, as well as for users of Google’s widely used products like Search, Maps, and YouTube.
Alphabet’s CFO and President, Ruth Porat, highlighted that this data center is the latest in a series of commitments to the UK’s digital economy. This investment follows previous ventures such as the Saint Giles and Kings Cross office developments, a multi-year research partnership with Cambridge University, and the Grace Hopper transatlantic submarine cable that links the UK with the US and Spain.
Porat emphasized the data center’s role in addressing the rising demand for Google’s AI and cloud offerings, while also bolstering the UK’s business computing capabilities. Additionally, it is expected to create job opportunities in construction and technology within the local area.
Google, renowned for its cutting-edge computing infrastructure, operates some of the world’s most efficient data centers. The company aims to power these facilities exclusively with carbon-free energy by 2030. In line with this goal, Google recently entered into an agreement with ENGIE to procure 100MW of offshore wind energy from Scotland’s Moray West farm, a move that is set to advance UK operations towards 90% renewable energy usage by 2025.
The planned data center will incorporate innovative features like waste heat recovery for local homes and businesses, and an air-cooling system to reduce environmental impact. Porat described this initiative as a continuation of Google’s significant investments in the UK, demonstrating its enduring commitment to the region. These investments include $1 billion in the Central Saint Giles office space, development of the King’s Cross campus, and the establishment of an Accessibility Discovery Centre to promote accessible technology.
In addition to its infrastructure projects, Google has contributed to the UK’s digital skill enhancement by training over a million Brits and expanding its AI-focused Digital Garage program to leverage the growing interest in this technology.
Google’s announcement comes on the heels of Microsoft’s confirmation of a £2.5 billion investment in a UK data center last November. This move marked a significant milestone in Microsoft’s 40-year history in the UK, signaling its commitment to expanding AI infrastructure in various locations including London, Cardiff, and potentially northern England. This investment is geared towards meeting the surging need for efficient, scalable, and sustainable AI computing power.
Microsoft’s UK data center will be equipped with over 20,000 advanced GPUs, aiding in machine learning and the development of new AI models. The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, lauded this development, underscoring the UK’s status as a leading European tech hub, with an ecosystem surpassing the combined worth of those in Germany and France. Hunt regarded these investments as a testament to the UK’s standing as a global science powerhouse.