July 11, 2022

CommsDay: Quinbrook plans $2.5bn DC campus in north Brisbane with 800MW of renewable power

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has announced plans to build one of the largest data storage campus projects in the Southern Hemisphere. The $2.5 billion, 30 hectare site, dubbed “Supernode” in Brendale, Brisbane, will be a multi-tenant campus of up to four hyperscale datacentres that will connect directly to the adjacent South Pine substation offering up to 800MW of power with three separate high voltage connections.

The company said the South Pine switchyard is where more than 80% of all power capacity located in Queensland transmits to. Renewable power projects all over Queensland transmit their power to South Pine, providing Supernode with an array of options to procure low-cost renewable power. The Supernode project is a key component of the company’s APAC Green Data strategy which develops and constructs renewable energy solutions for green datacentres.

The site will also host a large-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) of up to 2,000MWh, one of the largest in Australia. The BESS can provide further supply resiliency for the datacentre campus, and also provide critical backup for the Queensland power system.

“Our strategy is to deliver a powered solution to datacentre operators like the business model that is common in the US. Some operators may wish to build their own datacentre (powered land) and some may wish for us to build the datacentre to their specification (powered building). We are open to both models,” Quinbrook senior director Brian Restall told CommsDay. “We are looking for professional and experienced datacentre operators that want to lock in a competitive advantage for their next site. The site enjoys a latency advantage into Asia Pacific and a price advantage for delivered power. We believe the perfect customer is a hyperscale datacentre operator.”

Quinbrook recently obtained both Foreign Investment Review Board and local planning permissions from Moreton Bay Regional Council. The Supernode BESS adds to several milestone BESS projects Quinbrook is currently constructing and developing in the US and UK including the $2 billion+ Gemini solar+BESS project in Nevada, US which recently closed the largest ever financing for a single US renewables project.

The Brendale site intersects with Torus Networks’ Helios dark fibre cable, currently under construction, which will directly connect Brisbane to RTI’s JGA South international subsea cable, which landed in Maroochydore.

Quinbrook co-founder and managing partner David Scaysbrook said “Supernode is the latest example of our strategy to make impactful and ‘hard to repeat’ investments that help decarbonise energy intensive datacentre operations using renewable power solutions.”

“Brendale follows closely on the heels of our recent investment in Texas creating a similar 800MW green datacentre campus at Temple, near Austin, the initial phase of which became operational last month,” he said.

“Queensland can now compete more aggressively with the rest of Australia on the fundamentals of cost, sustainability of operations and latency in order to attract leading data storage operators and create the necessary foundations for the next digital age.”

He added “As Queenslanders, the founders of Quinbrook are delighted that we can play our part in helping support the power grid at a critical stage of the State’s energy transition when prices are high and volatility is rife.”

PRIME LOCATION: Access to the RTI cable means the site enjoys some of the lowest latency communication connections into the Asia Pacific region from Australia’s eastvcoast. Quinbrook confirmed the site will be connected to “multiple communications networks”.

QCN Fibre CEO Derek Merdith told CommsDay already has diverse and direct routes available now from the Brendale location to all the major Brisbane DC’s and also to the Maroochydore landing station. “[Our] South Pine site offers unparalleled connectivity, diversity and redundancy with five separate fibre routes from the site supporting mission critical datacentre operations,” he said. “Furthermore, QCN Fibre’s existing network is able to offer carrier diverse intercapital path options via its new inland path, or wet path via Maroochydore via its connectivity partner RTI.”

“This project is a perfect example of the Queensland Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy that seeks to leverage and integrate existing Government-Owned Infrastructure to benefit the Queensland economy,” he said. “In this case both the government-owned telecommunications and power assets are engaged.”

QCN Fibre, as a Powerlink subsidiary, has access to Powerlink’s substantial fibre assets. The project site is located adjacent to the Powerlink South Pine substation at Brendale, which is a key location and connectivity hub for QCN Fibre. “It means that QCN Fibre’s network is already in place to offer [Supernode] diverse, high-capacity services throughout Queensland, to all the major Queensland DCs, as well as direct intercapital and international links.”

 

TRACK RECORD: Headquartered in London with offices also in Jersey, Channel Islands, Houston, Texas and Gold Coast, Australia, Quinbrook manages the Low Carbon Power Fund which owns and is currently building a portfolio of more than 8,000MW of wind, solar, battery storage, grid support, community energy networks, Virtual Power Plants, green electricity retailing and smart grid projects in the UK, US and Australia on behalf of leading institutional investors including AustralianSuper.

Last October, Quinbrook inked a deal with cryptocurrency company Mawson Infrastructure Group to roll out crypto-mines across Australia, beginning with a 20MW site in Byron Bay.

Datacentre campuses and crypto-mine facilities provide power generators like Quinbrook with an alternative market when the Australian electricity grid needs less supply, like after midnight, and it can curtail supply at peak network load times.

DIGITAL BOOST: Acting premier and minister for state development Steven Miles said the government had provided $15 million to support the Sunshine Coast Council with the RTI cable landing station and was already seeing the benefits from that investment.

“The digital technology industry can now leverage the speed of the Sunshine Coast’s new international undersea fibre optic connection for uses such as efficient, large-scale data storage,” he said.

Moreton Bay Regional Council mayor Peter Flannery said “Brendale is a well-established industrial precinct that has been named one of the top 10 places to work in the greater South East Queensland region. Its credentials are buoyed by smart city infrastructure, high productivity, a sustainability focus and easy logistics and market access.”

As appeared in Communications Day – 11 July 2022 – commsday.com