No new user for Clyde data centre

by Kim Bowden - Apr 19, 2023

There is no alternative user for a consented data centre at Clyde and the project has now been shelved, leaving unused a brand new, supersized substation.

Contact Energy has confirmed it is not shopping for another project partner to make use of the site, located on a terrace above the Clutha/Mata-Au River, near the foot of the Clyde Dam.

The 10MW data centre was potentially only weeks away from opening when Lake Parime, the company behind it, went into liquidation in February.

A spokesperson for Contact Energy says "plans are afoot for the removal of the shipping containers".

What isn't going anywhere, for now, is the ready-and-waiting substation, paid for by Contact Energy to power the data centre.

Glenn Coates, who is the asset manager for Aurora Energy, says the substation is complete and commissioned.

It is not connected to the local network, but at this point in time that was always Aurora Energy's plan.

The eight shipping containers set to hold hundreds of servers will shortly be removed from the site of the planned data centre in Clyde.

"The substation will be connected in 2025, when the existing Clyde Earnscleugh substation reaches its end-of-life cycle and is decommissioned," Mr Coates says.

"The planned date to connect the Dunstan substation for the local community was always related to the decommissioning date of Clyde Earnscleugh substation, thereby deferring any costs to the community of the new substation until the old substation required decommissioning."

After years of underinvestment in its lines network, Aurora Energy is now playing catch up, and Mr Coates says the need for a new substation at Clyde was signaled in its application for a customised price-quality path in June 2020.

"This showed that the new Clyde Earnscleugh substation was to be constructed in 2024/25. As a result of Aurora Energy’s contract with Contact Energy, this investment was brought forward."

But the capacity of the new substation, which factored in supply to the data centre and Clyde, is greater than that required to power Clyde alone.

"Our standard size for transformers is 10MVA (that is megavolt amperes, a unit for measuring apparent power) and 24MVA, and a 24MVA transformer was installed to meet their (Contact Energy's) needs and for the community.  

"We will review the long-term growth needs of the region and consider whether the Dunstan substation is the best use of the 24MVA transformer, which could be utilised in other high growth areas on our network."

For now, Aurora Energy is "looking at options to enhance the short-term use of the site, however no decision has yet been made".

In winter 2020, the lines company was criticised after 1,200 Clyde residents were left without power for hours on one of the coldest days in June in decades.

The power went off at approximately 7am when the temperature was just above minus-10 degrees Celsius, and it stayed off for approximately nine hours.

In a letter around the same time, the company advised Clyde businesses that require a continuous supply of electricity to consider back-up generators.

Aurora Energy has said the new substation is expected to shore up supply in the Central Otago township.

Main image: While the shopping containers will go, the power substation will stay where, for now, it can be seen from across the Clutha/Mata-Au River.




Support Crux Support Crux