Sines data centre ‘biggest investment since Autoeuropa’

  • Lusa
  • 23 April 2021

At stake is an investment of up to €3.5 billion for a data centre in Sines, with the capacity of up to 450 megawatts (MW), which will create around 1,200 highly qualified jobs.

Portugal’s secretary of state for internationalisation told Lusa on Friday of the “enormous potential for exporting services” of the Anglo-American project for a data centre in Sines, which he described as “the biggest foreign investment captured by the country since Autoeuropa.”

“It has the potential to be the biggest foreign investment captured by the country since Autoeuropa,” Eurico Brilhante Dias told Lusa news agency during Friday’s presentation of a global data centre project to be built in Sines by Anglo-American start-up campus.

According to the company, at stake is an investment of “up to €3.5 billion” in a “Hyperscaler Data Centre campus,” with the capacity of up to 450 megawatts (MW), which “will create up to 1,200 highly qualified direct jobs and may generate 8,000 new indirect jobs by 2025.

The secretary of state pointed out that the project – called Sines 4.0 – “changes an important part of the investment” characteristics” that has been attracted to Sines, given its “digital and energy transition” profile.

“It is a digital transition project due to the opportunities that data centres and the data economy will give us in this 21st century and, at the same time, it is an energy transition project because more and more investors are looking for locations that can be supplied by renewable energy,” he said.

The minister also noted the “enormous potential for exporting services” of the investment, classified since March as a Project of National Interest (PIN) and whose location contract in Sines was signed today with AICEP Global Parques.

“We are talking about an investment that has the potential – according to information from the company itself – to make between 700 and 1,200 jobs. We are essentially talking about a data centre that will later transact services with the exterior. So it is, at the same time, a major foreign investment with enormous potential for exporting services,” he said.

Recalling that “2020 was particularly difficult for the world economy and the Portuguese economy, although foreign direct investment increased in 2020 in Portugal”, Brilhante Dias highlighted this project as “undoubtedly the largest foreign investment that the country has captured since Autoeuropa.”

The investment of the start-up campus – a company owned by the North American Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP (Davidson Kempner) and the British Pioneer Point Partners – is presented on Friday in a ceremony attended by the prime minister António Costa.

With construction expected to begin in 2022, involving 900 people in the first phase and up to 2,700 in total, Sines 4.0 is due to open the first of the five planned buildings at the end of 2023.

In a statement sent to Lusa, the Anglo-American company pointed out “at least five major advantages” that make Sines a “unique location with the potential to become one of Europe’s leading data centre campuses”: energy, scale, connectivity, cooling and marine topography.

On the energy level, the availability of obtaining “low-cost energy from renewable sources, through excellent connectivity to the national grid and with easy access to competitive green energy, including solar, wind and (in the future) hydrogen,” is highlighted.

Two other “critical success factors” of Sines are “scale, with land options and with significant expansion potential to over 450 MW” and “connectivity, through the intercontinental submarine cables currently under construction” and the “excellent connectivity with the interior of the European continent.”

The possibility of “competitively priced, highly efficient and sustainable cooling” is another “trump card” of the site: Through existing water cooling facilities, ocean water can be used to keep servers at optimal temperatures and with potential for reuse of waste heat from Sines 4.0 for neighbouring industrial clients.

Finally, the promoters highlight the “unique marine topography of the continental shelf in Sines, which makes it an excellent, safe and low-cost location for the future mooring of new submarine cables.”