A powerful connection: delivering supply to KAO

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KAO Data’s new £200m development required a dedicated and redundant 43.5MVA power supply. Managing costs and ensuring resilience was critical to the success of the start-up business 

KAO Data Campus

One of the most important deliverables for a new data centre is the provision of its power. The connection to the grid can be an expensive project in its own right, with pressure on capacity in almost every part of the network. So finding the right point of connection is crucial and almost as important getting it delivered on time. After this, there are a number of options that can improve how the capacity is delivered to optimise operating costs.

For Kao Data’s new data centre, located in Harlow, Essex, it was essential that the right level of capacity was available. To ensure this was effectively delivered, Kao engaged utility infrastructure provider Noveus to not only secure the power it needed but also to optimise the delivery. 

In order to get the first stage of the data centre quickly operational, Kao Data identified the need for 7.5MVA of power. Through some negotiation on the point of connection, this was secured at 11kV with a delivery timescale of less than six months. 

The main 43.5MVA of power capacity could then be delivered through a connection to the 33kV network, which Noveus established would be 24 months later – the 11kV connection was going to be sacrificial in the longer term and therefore Noveus set about looking at how this initial cost (in the millions) could be avoided.

Noveus set to work to optimise the point of connection solution in order to manage the capital costs without compromising the phased delivery. Lengthy discussions with the distribution network operator convinced Noveus that the overall capacity could be derived from a source substation, which could mitigate a substantial level of capex. 

The chosen solution resulted in the 33kV connection being delivered slightly later but well within the project requirements and also in a phased manner such that the capacity charges could be spread out, saving on operating costs – equally important in a new start-up business.

The Noveus solution meant Kao Data was able to have power phased initially for 10MVA to meet the early start up requirement, with the full power being available 18 months later with no risk to the resilience or security of supply. 

In addition to the capital cost, Noveus also undertook a review of the Use of Systems costs, the non-energy elements that are close to the same level as the wholesale electricity costs. Noveus wanted to ensure that the lower capital cost did not compromise Kao Data’s future efficiency. 

The chosen solution clearly demonstrated lower Use of System charges (compared with the original approach), allowing Kao Data to provide a lower and competitive cost of energy to its customers.

Having the right solution prior to deciding on the delivery model resulted in the build contract having clear objectives, with a defined scope and very little reason for change – change we all appreciate brings with it cost and time impacts. 

Noveus determined with Kao Data that the opportunity for competition in the connection build would deliver lower capital costs and opted to tender the contestable works under a tightly defined design and build contract. Matrix Networks was appointed and rose to the challenging targets. The connection was delivered to time and budget.

Noveus also provided continuing monitoring advisory services throughout the infrastructure reinforcement programme, ensuring both risk and opportunity were proactively managed through to completion of the work.

Kao Data chief operating officer Paul Finch comments: “The appointment and contribution of Noveus has contributed to some of the key early successes for the business. To successfully procure and deliver a 43.5MVA, 33kV/11kV, dedicated substation both on programme and on budget should not be understated. Engineering projects of this nature are capital intensive, technically complex and the delivery process is imbedded with regulatory and commercial risk.”

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