Sunday 14 April 2024
 5.8°C   WNW Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

News / Data centre a catalyst for Shetland

A £12 million data processing and storage centre proposed for Lerwick has been described as the “enabling infrastructure” on which Shetland is likely to build its digital economy.

Shetland Islands Council on Wednesday said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Inverness based IT developer Alchemy Plus to build the 1,200 square metre centre either at the Port Business Park or the Black Hill industrial estate.

The centre will be the first direct investment that comes as a result of the council’s plans to spend around £1.4 million on a connection into the Faroese high speed fibre optic cable that crosses Shetland near Sandwick.

Steve Chisholm, chief executive of Alchemy Plus, said the digital industry was the new heavy industry and Shetland was well placed to benefit from it.

He said both partners were confident that the building, its power supply and the high speed connectivity would be in place before the end of next year.

The company was attracted to come to Shetland because of its cold climate, which would keep down the cost of cooling the data facility, as well as by the fact that an island location offers additional security to storing sensitive information.

Mr Chisholm said the data centre would build on Shetland’s green credentials as it would be powered by renewable energy and would also feed its excess heat into the existing district heating system in Lerwick.

He added that the company’s engineers were working on a four megawatt renewables solution, which would probably be based on wind turbines combined with modern battery storage technology.

Data centre provision in the UK is almost at its capacity and the requirement for more centres is regarded as a major area for growth, he told the meeting.

The hub, which will be fitted with 300 so-called “high density racks”, will bring high speed connectivity to local businesses, provide computer services and act as springboard for further IT development.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Mr Chisholm said: “We decided to come to Shetland because of a combination of resources that Shetland has to offer: fibre optic connections to the outside world that match the best of any other data centre worldwide; renewable energy solutions that provide green and cost-effective energy; and a climate that is extremely stable and cool and which gives low operating cost for the data centre.

“Because Shetland has a very advanced district heating system in Lerwick, the opportunity to connect to that and make positive use of waste heat that traditionally data centres would just expose to the atmosphere.

“It is a very green and cost-effective solution and the islands represent a security and stability that is very attractive to data centre clients from around the world.

Head of economic development at Shetland Islands Council, Neil Grant, said the project was “truly unique”.

“It is very satisfying to see such a multi-faceted project benefit from our past and ongoing commitment to delivering high capacity fibre optic internet connectivity, our innovative district heating scheme and our acclaimed local renewables expertise.

“The data centre is a real catalyst connecting so many key components of our development plan for the future. As an island we may be disadvantaged by location and transport costs, however, within the digital sphere these constraints do not apply and our climate and green energy credentials position us very well within a growing international market for data services,” he said.

Vice convener Josie Simpson added: “We intend to utilise the data centre ourselves, not just to benefit from the financial and operational benefits that such a shared services facility can deliver, but also to ensure that we fully showcase the strengths of the facility to both local and international customers.”


Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.