Iberian real estate company Merlin Properties is branching into data centers, with four sites to be built in partnership with Edged Energy, a green infrastructure startup.

The four data centers, which will run efficiently and use no water, will be located at existing land belonging to Merlin, in Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona and Lisbon. The building partner, Edge Energy, is a newcomer promising "net zero digital infrastructure" for the Edge. It's part of an umbrella group called Endeavour, which was set up early in 2020, by Jakob Carnemark, previously a founder of data center provider Aligned.

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– Merlin Properties

Spanish Edge

Merlin is a REIT with office buildings, warehouses, and around 13 shopping malls, but is a newcomer to data centers. It does claim to be a "leading developer and operator of green assets," and promises that its plan with Edge will create ultra-efficient waterless data centers, which will be powered from local renewable energy, primarily Merlin's own roof-mounted and ground PV installations. Each data center will have hours of battery energy storage allowing for 24x7 renewable energy use (and also boosting reliability)

The sites in Barcelona and Madrid will each support up to 20MW of load, while Merlin is planning campus sites in Bilbao and Lisbon which will start at 20MW, but could go as big as 100MW.

"We service a wide range of customers, from high tech companies in our signature office buildings to international logistics operators in our warehouses," says David Brush, co-founder of Merlin, who is acting as a special advisor to the new data center program. "The Iberian region is perfectly positioned to be the principal gateway connecting the digital economies of Europe, North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and beyond."

The data centers will consume zero water for cooling, and promise to have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.15. Merlin quotes Uptime Institute estimates which say European data centers have an average PUE of 1.46, and calculates that its Edged facilities would therefore use 67 percent less energy for cooling and other overheads.

"Our team has built data centers for the last 25 years, yet these are some of the best sites from a fiber and power perspective that we have seen," said Carnemark. "The Iberian Peninsula is fast-becoming one of the most strategically connected places in the world with excellent fiber networks and an abundance of solar and wind energy resources. This region is a major focus for us as we continue building the first carbon-neutral and water-neutral global platform for data center edge infrastructure."

Edged and Merlin are also planning to install a network of more than 100MW of charging points for electric trucks used in logistics: "Merlin is the largest logistics provider in the Iberian region and all of our clients will face competitive pressure to develop more sustainable business models. We can help them reduce their carbon footprint by building advanced EV charging stations for fleet operations that will also provide support to electric truck companies by providing access to our customer base and our investment in charging infrastructure," said Brush.