Portugal’s largest data centre project to date has received Lisbon’s go-ahead amid calls for the US$4.2 billion project to be relocated as it is currently planned for a protected area.
The land in Sines, around 150 kilometres south of the capital Lisbon, was awarded the Special Conservation Zone (SCZ) status just a year before the project was announced.
Under the project’s approval one of the conditions stipulates that should important natural habitats be found in the land parcels allocated to the project, “an alternative location proposal should be sought in the lands that integrate the Sines Industrial and Logistics Zone Urbanization Plan (PUZILS) or others, in which there are no constraints in terms of nature conservation, and likewise without constraints from the point of view of nature conservation, and likewise without constraints from the point of view of cork oak and holm oak protection legislation”.
The Sines 4.0 campus, set to be made of five buildings with a total power output of 450 MW, was originally announced in April by Start Campus, a British-American investment partnership between Pioneer Point Partners and Davidson Kempner Capital Management. Interestingly, the two brands jointly invested $1.2 billion in Echelon Data Centers in 2020.
The Start Campus project is set to use ocean water and generate 1,200 direct jobs and an additional 8,000 indirect positions by 2025. The first phase is due to be brought online by 2023.
When it was announced, Portuguese Minister of State for the Economy and the Digital Transition Pedro Siza Vieira ailed the campus as “the biggest foreign investment the nation has secured since Autoeuropa”.
Autoeuropa is a Volkswagen automotive assembly plant, located in the city of Palmela, near Lisbon. It was announced in 1991 and began operations in 1995, having generated over 5,400 jobs and secured an investment of $2.3 billion.
The Portuguese government has also unveiled plans to invest up to $1.77 billion in the generation of green hydrogen power, with Brussels having approved the project in June 2021and the first phase set to deliver 100MW in the coming years. Lisbon expects to eventually produce at least 1GW at the H2 Sines project-driven through a consortium including Portugal’s Martifer and REN, France’s Engie, and Denmark’s Vestas.