QScale is taking an important step in launching its data center project in Lewis, whose production heat can be recovered to grow berries and tomatoes. The Quebec company on Tuesday confirmed an investment of $ 150 million from the Quebec government, Desjardines Capital.
The center maintains technical infrastructure that can perform “high performance” calculations. “People already know about cloud computing, what we do is process data,” QScale president Martin Bouchard explained in an interview. These are supercomputers that process large amounts of data. It is a process used by many industries, including self-driving cars and pharmaceutical research. All this takes a lot of energy. ”
Demand for this service has grown significantly, with Copernicus being the founder of the search engine in 1996 and co-founding a 4-degree cloud data storage center that he sold to Videotron. “Demand doubles every two months. There is a shortage. Everyone on the planet is tearing up access to computing power. With affordable energy from Quebec, we have an eco-friendly and affordable offer. ”
One of the features of the project is to recover the heat generated by computers for greenhouses located on adjacent land “half a kilometer away”. The project is expected to produce about 2,800 tonnes of berries and over 80,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year once completed.
The tech company does not “improve” itself as an expert in agriculture and stays with partners to maintain greenhouses. There are “very serious” discussions with Ceres Demers, but the company has also surveyed other partners. “We have the equivalent of about 100 football fields, so there will be space for many partners. The land in question is in the agricultural zone and was purchased by QScale from the city of Lewis.
The first step
Construction of the center began a month and a half ago. It unfolds in eight stages over a period of seven years. An investment of 867 million is estimated to create more than 200 jobs. By comparison, Google’s data center project in Buharnois indicated an investment of 35 735 million.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. It involves the construction of strategic infrastructure, which is the “backbone of the center”. Extensions are made by adding modules.
The Q scale aims to build other facilities in Quebec. The company owns land in the city of Saint-Bruno in Montero. Mr. Bouchard is not yet ready to make an official statement regarding the location on the outskirts of Montreal. The capacity of the project is up to half of Lewis. “It may seem small, half of it, but it’s already quite large. Lewis is gigantic. The capacity of Saint-Bruno is 70 megawatts compared to 140 megawatts at Lewis.”
Public and private partners
The company announced on Tuesday that it had secured nearly 195 million investments from private and government partners.
The Quebec government will inject 90 million in this adventure. These sums were divided by a loan of 60 million and an investment of 30 million in a limited partnership stake in the company. “The project is responding to a rapidly growing global need due to data generated by new technologies, including mobile applications and artificial intelligence,” Finance Minister and Minister of Finance and Innovation Eric Girard said in a press release.
Deszardins Capital, injecting a total of nearly 60 million. According to the Deszardins Group, it is one of the most important investments since its creation. The Lewis Center, located near the Hydro-Quebec facility, has entered into an agreement with the state agency for the use of 140 MW.
Private investors from Quebec contributed $ 45 million in capital. Martin Bouchard’s partners include businessmen Vincent Thibault and Danny Perron.