Quinbrook takes aim at power costs with A$2.5bn green data centre

Co-founder David Scaysbrook walks us through the project, which includes one of the largest batteries in the Australian National Electricity Market.

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has launched a A$2.5 billion ($1.68 billion; €1.68 billion) green data storage project in the Australian state of Queensland.

The 800MW capacity campus, known as Supernode, will be powered by renewable energy and is located in the Brisbane suburb of Brendale, which is the central node of Queensland’s electricity network. Investment in the project – which includes a 2000MWh battery energy storage system expected to help resolve stability issues facing the state’s power grid – will be made via the firm’s Net Zero Power Fund, Quinbrook co-founder David Scaysbrook told Infrastructure Investor.

The location of the project site, which will also be directly connected to an international subsea data communications network, presented a unique opportunity to make the most of Brisbane’s closer proximity to Southeast Asia and the US – compared to Sydney and Melbourne, where Australian data centres are usually located – as well as Queensland’s abundance of renewables, which is among the cheapest in Australia, Scaysbrook said.

“Data centre operators are now prioritising renewables as part of their commitments to net zero, especially for new-build data centre infrastructure… The growth in storage, particularly with 5G streaming, is going through the roof, and the number one operating cost for data centres is power,” he explained.

“We put the pieces together and said there’s no real reason why some of these more strategic data centres have to be in Sydney or Melbourne. In fact, the more diversified you have your data centre ecosystem, the more resilient and more robust it is.”

The Brendale-based project follows Quinbrook’s investment in a similar 800MW data centre campus in Texas, which also falls within the Net Zero Power Fund’s green data centre thematic. Located near Austin, the initial phase of that project recently became operational.

Supernode, which will be developed in stages, is expected to be completed within the next five years.

“A project like this goes beyond renewables into digital infrastructure, digital economy [and] helping create new industries. It’s a far more impactful investment thesis for Quinbrook than just doing another solar farm or wind farm,” Scaysbrook said.

Earlier this year, Quinbrook completed $1.9 billion in financing for Gemini, a 690MW solar and 380MW storage project located in Nevada which, when it closed, was the largest tax equity financing for a single renewables project in the US.