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Data storage – what is the opportunity for construction?

26 June 2024

We are currently in a period which is quickly and irreversibly going to change our lives.

Artificial intelligence (AI). The new industrial revolution.

We can debate the pro's and con's, but it is here and adoption is going to accelerate.

The foundation of this revolution is going to be data, as the AI technology needs the storage of huge datasets and immense processing power required for training complex AI models.

How much data?

The global data volume has been doubling every two years. It is predicted to be 175 zettabytes (ZB) in 2025. A ZB is a trillion gigabytes. Or a billion one terabyte hard drives. Crazy numbers.

Where is it going to be stored?

Data centres. The demand for these facilities is now going increase, and the sustainability of the revolution is going to be dependent upon the development of data centre supply. Hyperscale data centres appropriate for this increased demand can consume over 150 mega watts, the equivalent to the energy consumption of an average UK city.

Great news for construction?

Yes. A significant expansion of the market must result in the need for the construction of new facilities.

What are the risks?

The construction industry still has the scars of the energy from waste days, where contractors accepted risks which were outside usual competencies. Thus the lesson learned is to ensure involvement is restricted to construction activities, with no liability for facility outputs / performance.

Services design innovation. The technology involved is rapidly evolving, requiring controlled environments from high energy inputs, significant cooling and environmental considerations.


Location: Availability of electrical power, and how the connection is made.

Planning. Size of facility and connecting utilities.

Supply chain availability (labour and materials) for:

  • Ring mains / cables.
  • Transformers.
  • Switch gear.
  • UPS.
  • Cooling / ventilation / air handling.
  • Heat recovery.
  • Fire detection / suppression.
  • Security / terrorism threat.

Construction opportunity?

Can supply match a demand of global data doubling every two years?

Is construction capable of resourcing the demand?

Is the associated design innovation a risk?

Is the data centre components supply chain ready for the worldwide demand increase?

Where is the power coming from?

What are the green targets, and consequences of non-achievement?

This is a significant opportunity for construction, with a focus on the management of services design innovations and restricting liabilities to construction outputs.

To discuss further contact Ian Cooper.

Further Reading