UK data centres are about to leap in size on the back of increased demand for space and the need for larger, higher-capacity sites, according to DCByte research shared with Property Week.

The UK’s total planned data centre capacity more than doubled between 2017 and the end of 2021, from 954MW in 2017 to 2,103MW. Each megawatt corresponds to around 10,000 sq ft and costs around £8m to develop, meaning that the sector’s five-year growth equates to 11.46m sq ft and represents £9.2bn in committed capital.

Of the existing data centres, Ark Data Centres’ 376,000 sq ft Cody Park facility near Farnborough is the UK’s largest with 37.6MW of active capacity, while its 334,000 sq ft Corsham Spring Park site is the second largest (33.4MW). Vantage Data Centres’ Cardiff centre (33MW) and Digital Realty’s Goldsworth Park facility (32MW) come third and fourth, and Global Switch’s London East site fifth.

DCByte data shows the new UK data centres coming on stream will be far larger in size. US infotech company CloudHQ’s 1m sq ft ENG1 and ENG2 facilities, which are being built near Didcot and are due to go live within two years, will have 102MW of capacity and cost close to £1bn to develop.

Ark’s new Union Park centre in Hillingdon, which is due to go operational by the end of next year, will span 960,000 sq ft and have 96MW capacity. Pure Data Centres, meanwhile, has planning permission for a Borehamwood facility that will produce 60MW capacity and take up around 600,000 sq ft when it is completed.

DCByte chief executive Ed Galvin says: “These upcoming ‘hyperscale’ data centres can consume the equivalent power of a small town and will dwarf existing schemes. Nothing on this scale has been seen before.”

He adds that their construction represents a quantum leap in the role and perception of data centres. “For a long time, data centres were viewed as a curious offshoot of logistics, but now perception has shifted to the sector being more closely aligned with the utilities than alternative assets,” says Galvin.