Johor scrambles to cope with data centre hypergrowth

A moratorium on data centres in Johor no longer a far-fetched idea.

Johor scrambles to cope with data centre hypergrowth
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Ven Jiun (Greg) Chee - The Causeway from Johor

A moratorium on data centres in Johor, Malaysia might not be as far-fetched an idea as you think.

Near vertical growth trajectory

As reported by 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳, 9 data centres with a capacity of 1,280 MW have been completed in Johor. Another 6 projects with 1,490 MW will be completed soon.

This is staggering growth - especially so when one considers how there were just 10MW of data centres in Johor a few years ago.

And yes, there are another 30 data centre projects in various stages of discussion.

Will a moratorium happen?

And from what I'm hearing, a moratorium on new data centres in Johor is being suggested by some as a way to address the breakneck growth.

Two reasons:

  • The optics of any shortfall: I wrote previously that water and power shortfalls in Johor are likely to be temporary. Yet it won't look good politically should water rationing happen.
  • At the highest levels: From my understanding, concerns about too many data centres - built too quickly - have been voiced at the highest level in the state.

To be absolutely clear, I'm not saying there will be a moratorium. But it is being mooted as a last resort.

Focus on sustainability

For now, a Johor State Data Centre Development Coordination Committee (JPPDNJ) has been set up and members have already met for the first time.

The committee had decided to focus on the use of renewables, as well as the efficient use of electricity and water - based on PUE and WUE (Water Usage Effectiveness).

Separately, work is being done to craft planning guidelines for data centres, to ensure a uniform guide for agencies and local authorities.

PS: PUE and WUE are mentioned in Singapore's Green Data Centre Roadmap as well.

Time to be choosy

There is no question that the rapid growth of data centres has raised concerns about sustainability, and even ruffled some feathers at government agencies as data centre developers rushed to get a foot in.

For now, there is every indication that Johor continues to welcome new developments for what might well be a once-in-a-century opportunity.

However, they can (and are) a lot more deliberate now about the data centres that are allowed.

Some are sceptical that any data centre applications will be rejected outright. However, I reckon that it's just a matter of time.