Everyone’s excited that Google has bought an old paper mill in Finland for a large data centre. Could that be a potential for NB’s old mills? Possibly but you have to understand that Google wants the site for its access to cheaper hydroelectrical power. A large Google data centre uses almost as much power as as paper mill. Hydro is considered clean and it continues to be relatively low costs.
If you scroll down in this report to page 17 in this report you will see that New Brunswick has the second highest electricity cost structure among these seven Canadian provinces for large industrial users (such as Google). Why would Google put a data centre in New Brunswick when they could save almost $700,000/month by putting one in Manitoba?
I think that data centres should be an opportunity for New Brunswick but I think we would need to get around the power problem -somehow. It is a structural barrier to attracting any electricity intensive industries.
Could we pump cold water in from the Bay of Fundy to cool the data centre? Could we put one on top of the natural gas out in Sussex? Would everyone in the province agree to pay $200/year more on our electricity bill to allow NB Power to have a lower large industrial rate?