Quebec boasts cheap and renewable electricity, which is attracting technology giants. In today’s booming energy sector, companies are in a race to develop cost-effective data centers.
The major financial argument for Quebec is its low electricity fees. The country offer lower prices than American and European countries, with a cost of approximately 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
“We have some of the best rates in the world,” remarks Cendrix Bouchard, spokesperson for Hydro-Québec.
The province of Ontario currently has fifty data centers, up from 39 at the beginning of 2019. Almost all of them are owned by companies in the cloud computing sector, such as Amazon (leader in web services, with Amazon Web Services), Microsoft, Google, or IBM.
Quebec is till far behind Virginia in the United States and its “Data Center Alley”, with over 120 data centers. Nevertheless, the country is confident in its ability to become a strong option for data centers.
“In recent years, we’ve seen some new players arrive, and a few very big players, too,” says Stéphane Paquet, CEO of Montreal International, the organization that promotes the city’s economy.
Google has already committed. The company is building a 60-hectare plot data center with an investment of 735 million Canadian dollars. Microsoft is pursuing the same expansion strategy by purchasing land in the Quebec City area.
Data centers in Quebec consume about 663 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per month. Which is equivalent to the consumption of 40,000 homes.
Green energy powered data centers.
“Data centers should prefer locations powered by hydro, solar, or even nuclear energy rather than coal-fired ones.” says Hugues Ferreboeuf, founder and CEO of The Shift Project.
“But that’s not enough,” he says. “At the same time, they must manage to control the growth of their consumption, otherwise they will capture too large a share of the electricity produced by renewable energy.”