Malaysia's breakneck data centre growth could strain resources

Surging data centre growth in Malaysia could strain power and water supplies in the coming years, says a new report.

Malaysia's breakneck data centre growth could strain resources
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Patrick Langwallner

Malaysia's surging data centre growth could strain its power and water supplies in the coming years.

According to a ST report yesterday, states like Selangor and Johor could see their water and electricity supplies strained due to the rapid growth of data centres.

  1. Breakneck growth

I've written previously about how TNB has received supply applications for 11,000MW of power for new data centres.

To be clear, not all projects are expected to be implemented. But it's still an astounding figure, even if only half the capacity get used by data centres.

For reference, Singapore has a total generation capacity of around 12,700MW of power in 2022.

Now, murmurs of potential overconsumption of water and electricity by data centres in Malaysia are increasing.

  1. Hyped up about data centres

As noted by the report:

🔸The number of data centres is expected to double from the existing 45 sites nationwide, with an additional 44 sites in the pipeline.

🔸“People are too hyped up about data centres nowadays, but the issue in Johor is we do not have enough water and power,” said Datuk Noorazam during a panel discussion recently.

🔸Malaysia generates a surplus of power right now, but the demand for energy for data centres in the next decade could potentially surpass the available power supply.

FYI: Data centres use a huge amount of water for cooling. A 100MW DC uses an estimated 1.1 million gallons of water per day.

  1. Spotlight on sustainability

For now, the authorities in Johor are starting to put in place measures to address concerns about rampant electricity and water use.

The ST was told that the state government in Johor will implement guidelines requiring new data centre operators to demonstrate efforts to use green energy hardware and software.

New data centre developments will be assessed on their sustainability efforts, including power and water efficiency - and could be rejected if unmet.

  1. A challenged faced by all

This report brought recent remarks by SMS Dr Janil Puthucheary at Google's launch of its 4th SG data centre to mind.

He said: “This challenge [of sustainability] is not unique to Singapore; eventually, all of us, wherever we are in the world, are going to be faced with these constraints.”

“Because of who we are, we are determined to turn these constraints into an opportunity to innovate and capture value from the growth of sustainable data centres.”

What do you think?