Data center next to dam in New Zealand to host nearly 3,000 servers

Lake Parime

A proposed data center by a dam near Clyde, New Zealand is aiming to house eight containerized data centers and nearly 3,000 servers.

An application seen by the Otago Daily Times outlines details of a previously announced facility. When fully built out, the site next to Clyde Dam in Otago would house eight containerized data centers, each expected to hold 368 servers, the application said.

The 10MW data center infrastructure would be owned and operated by UK-based digital infrastructure start-up Lake Parime and sit on 1.6 acres of land owned by parent company Contact under a lease agreement.

Lake Parime pitches itself as a way to use excess renewable energy by shifting that power into one of its modular ‘Powerbox’ data centers, and use that to run high-performance computing applications like machine learning, visualization, and modeling, as well as blockchain and cryptocurrency. The company claims to have deployments in the UK, Canada, and the US, but details are limited.

As previously reported by DCD, the facilities are only expected to operate intermittently, when variable renewable energy sources mean there is excess power to use.

“The demand flexibility aspect is aligned with our decarbonization aspirations as it will reduce the volume of thermal generation needed to back up the national grid in a dry year,” Contact CEO Mike Fuge has previously said.

The project is expected to be operational by May 2022. From 2025, a proposed substation on the site would improve the reliability of electricity supply to the Clyde township and wider Clyde area.

From 2025, a cost-sharing arrangement would be in place resulting in lower (than otherwise) line charges to energy firm Aurora’s existing customers compared to the replacement of the Clyde-Earnscleugh substation on a stand-alone basis, the application says.

‘‘The data center operator will pay a share of the network charges and other common costs associated with the Clyde connection point, reducing the individual Clyde township household share of the payments for this infrastructure,’ according to the application.

New Zealand’s South Island is soon set to have excess power, as the huge Tiwai aluminum smelter plant closes in 2024. Contact is looking to sign 300MW of power deals to make up for the loss, including a 60MW Datagrid data center, which will eventually grow to 100MW.