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Contact & Simply Energy to provide renewable power generation for Clyde data centre

Contact Energy and its energy solutions business Simply Energy have signed on as the energy provider for a new data center, currently being built south of the Clyde Dam in Otago.

UK-based firm Lake Parime is currently building the low-emissions data center, which runs alongside the Clutha River, to serve high performance computing needs in New Zealand.

“We have a range of activity planned to reduce any impact of the data center. This includes landscaping, paint colours, night lighting control and design to reduce visual impact and absorb noise,” says Simply Energy director Murray Dyer.

Simply Energy will provide 10 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the data center through ‘demand flexibility' technology, which can scale operations up or down depending on factors such as hydro generation water flows, weather, and the country's electricity needs.

Dyer says that the demand for renewable energy is increasing so the company must ensure the country's energy needs are met through sources such as wind and solar power.

Contact Energy CEO Mike Fuge adds that data center operators are drawn to New Zealand's renewable energy infrastructure and the cooler climate found in places within the South Island.

“There are environmental and economic advantages to being in this part of the world. We expect to see increasing interest from global companies looking for secure, clean, renewable energy sources.

“This is the first announced project from our pipeline, as we pursue our target to secure over 300 megawatts of market-backed demand opportunities in the lower South Island, reducing New Zealand's reliance on the Tiwai smelter given its expected closure at the end of 2024.

Contact filed for resource consent at the end of August. The company expects the data center to be operational by May next year if resource consent is approved. Contact also operates the Clyde Dam.

Aurora Energy will also build and operate a new substation for the data center.

Lake Parime has not commented on the news, suggesting that the company is doing its best to fly under the radar - for now.

The company's website claims its mission is to back renewable energy and ‘decarbonise the grid'. Its “modular, mobile data-centre solution monetises variable and surplus electricity production for renewable generators. Energy that would otherwise be wasted is transformed into computing power delivered over the internet.

The company has deployments in countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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