Technology

Google invests $1bn in expanding UK datacentre footprint with Hertfordshire facility

Google is reinforcing its commitment to the UK by building a $1bn datacentre on a 33-acre site in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, to provide enterprises with locally hosted access to its public cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) services.

The build will mark a sizeable expansion of the company’s UK datacentre footprint, and is being hailed as a sign of Google’s ongoing commitment to growing its presence in the country.

The first UK-based Google Cloud Platform (GCP) datacentre region went live in July 2017, with three availability zones and all of the supporting infrastructure housed in a colocation facility.  

The Waltham Cross development will be sited on a patch of land the company bought in 2020, and will also feature off-site heat recovery technology that will see the facility’s waste heat redistributed for use by the local community.

It’s also the latest in a long line of investments the company has made in the UK that have seen it take over office space in London and embark on major research projects with the University of Cambridge.

Ruth Porat, president, chief investment officer and chief financial officer of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said the project will bring economic benefits at both a national and more localised level.

“The Waltham Cross datacentre represents our latest investment in the UK and the wide economy at large,” she said. “This investment builds upon our Saint Giles and Kings Cross office developments, our multi-year research collaboration agreement with the University of Cambridge, and the Grace Hopper subsea cable that connects the UK with the United States and Spain.”

She added: “This new datacentre will meet the growing demand for AI and cloud services and bring crucial compute capacity to businesses across the UK while creating construction and technical jobs for the local community. Together with the UK government, we are working to make AI more helpful and accessible for people and organisations across the country.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak hailed the news as a sign of the company’s confidence in the government’s ambitions to transform the UK into a technology and science superpower, as well as a leader in the AI space.

“The UK is a fantastic place to invest, and Google’s $1bn investment is testament to the fact that the UK is a centre of excellence in technology and has huge potential for growth,” he said.

“Foreign investment creates jobs and grows all regions of our economy, and investments like this will help to drive growth in the decade ahead. I will continue to back businesses to invest and innovate here in the UK.”

Meanwhile, the UK government’s science, innovation and technology secretary, Michelle Donelan, also talked up the benefits the build will bring to the UK’s tech startup community.

“By basing their new datacentres on our shores, Google are providing British businesses, including our bustling startups, with more reliable access to some of the world’s leading technology, underpinning their innovation and success,” she said. “That is not to mention the $1bn investment will also bring forward a new wave of opportunities and skilled jobs.”

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