Data center power demands mean new houses can't be built in London anymore

Inside Facebook data center
(Image credit: Facebook)

Developers in some parts of London could face a ban on new developments until 2035 due to data centers gobbling up too much of the power grid capacity.

According to sources reported by the Financial Times, the Greater London Authority (GLA) wrote to developers that it could be "more than a decade" before the power supply gets up to scratch.

Hillingdon, Ealing, and Hounslow are three areas impacted, accounting for 11% of London’s housing supply according to the FT's estimates. 

What's causing the issue?

The GLA highlighted in that "data centers use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities, to power servers and ensure resilience in service," in the note. 

David O’Leary, a policy director at the Home Builders Federation said "25 units or more will be affected", telling the newspaper that the increasing usage of low carbon tech such as electric vehicles could worsen the problem

West London has seen a glut of data center developments in recent years.

These include developments by Ark Data Centres in Western Avenue, Park Royal, and campus from British data center operator Virtus located in Stockley Park.

Some steps are being made to remedy the issue, The National Grid and utility firm SSEN are said to be upgrading the grid's capacity in the note, but this "could take years".

It's not just a deficit of electricity that is impacting data centers, extreme weather is playing its part too. 

UK data centers belonging to Google Cloud and Oracle here impacted last week, as the Brish heatwave knocked them out of action by the 40C (104F) weather. 

  • Want to move your storage away from external data centers? Check out our guide to the best bare metal servers

Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.