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Drought-hit Arizona pushes ahead with largescale data centres

State is no stranger to data centres, with Apple, Google, EdgeCore, CyrusOne, Digital Realty, NTT/RagingWire, and EdgeConneX all operating or building in the region.

By João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

4 Mins

July 13, 2021 | 4:17 PM BST

As authorities prepare to declare a water shortage state along the Colorado River, data centre construction in Arizona is gaining pace.

Global data centre operator NTT is the latest provider to break ground on what will become a 240 MW data centre campus spread over 102-acres of land in Mesa, Phoenix.

The company explains on its website: “Located on the Elliot Road Technology Corridor, just 30 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, NTT Phoenix PH1 will feature 36MW of critical IT load and is the first of seven planned data centres.”

The site is set to open in 2022 and joins a growing number of facilities being built in the region.

Just a recent as last month, the City Council of Mesa approved another site, this time a $800 million development across a 396 acres property.

It is still not yet known who is behind the data centre development, with the parties currently operating under the name of Redale LLC, a Delaware limited liability company.

However, as the developments gain approval and authorities focus on the financial benefits of the projects, residents have voiced concerns over the water usage levels largescale facilities bring with them.

For instance, the Redale project is estimated to use as much as 1.25 million gallons of water every day to help cool down its servers. The water will be proved through acquired water rights which will be transferred to the City of Mesa.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the last 12 months have been the driest in 126 years in the region.

Jenn Duff, Mesa’s vice mayor, said during the meeting where the Redale project was approved: “I have very serious concerns about our water in Arizona.

“As we form Mesa’s climate action plan and embark upon the first phase of the seven-state drought contingency plan, making cutbacks to agriculture, I cannot in good conscience approve this mega data centre using 1.7 million gallons per day at total build-out, up to three million sq ft on 396 acres.”

Also, Google is set to face some local criticism as the company continues to build its campus which is set to consume as much as one million gallons of water per day. And this is only phase one.

Half of the water is set to be brought in from the Colorado River, the river that has helped shape cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and which is now registering some of its lowest water levels in history.

Duff added:  “Data centres are not a responsible use of our water and it is time to stop and allow other forms of manufacturing and technology to infill in this area.”

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that data centre projects will be cancelled or not given approval in Arizona.

The state has become one of the US’ main location hubs for hosting facilities, with nearly 10 million sq ft of flooring planned for construction.

The region is known for its safety in terms of natural disasters, as well as reduced taxes, low energy costs, proximity to several IT and enterprise hubs, and a large hyperscale footprint.

In its latest yearly report, JLL explained that demand in Phoenix by hyperscale cloud companies continued through the balance of 2020 with multimegawatt deals expanding these companies’ existing colocation footprints in the Valley. Financial, healthcare, social media, and software companies are beginning to expand as well.

“Corporate-owned enterprise data centres will continue to be brought to market for sale-leaseback to rightsized and outsource operations to colocation companies. Greater Phoenix will continue to see existing Phoenix colocation operators expanding their footprints with secondary locations,” it added.

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João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

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