Data center developer Rowan Digital Infrastructure has been granted permission for a campus in Frederick County, Maryland.
The project, known as the Bauxite Data Center, would see Rowan develop four single-story buildings totaling 777,150 sq ft (72,200 sqm) across 151 acres, along with an on-site substation from Potomac Edison.
County documents suggest Rowan aims to install 92 2.75MW backup generators, totaling 253MW and powered either by diesel or HVO. Update: Rowan has reached out to say the campus is set to offer 231MW.
Commission Chair Joel Rensberger and Commissioners Tim Davis, Craig Hicks, Sam Tressler III, and Mark Long voted to approve the plan with certain conditions, including that a vibrational analysis for the project be done. Commissioners Carole Sepe and Robert White were absent.
County staff had no objection to conditional approval of the Site Development Plan.
Set up in 2021 by Quinbrook and Birch Infrastructure, Rowan is already developing a 300MW campus in Temple, Texas. The company is also developing a four-building campus in Oregon, Rowan has other developments listed on its website across North America including data center projects Meriwether and Schwab in Oregon, Matterhorn in California, and Moriah, Cinco, and Brown in Texas.
The Maryland site, a former smelting plant in Adamstown was bought by Quantum Loophole in 2021, for a reported $100 million, and proposed as an alternative site to the overcrowded hub at Ashburn, 25 miles away in Northern Virginia. Quantum Loophole plans to host hyperscale tenants on the 2,100-acre campus, which could use more than 1GW of power.
Rowan first announced plans to move into the area in October 2023; a website set up by Rowan suggests construction is earmarked between Spring 2024 and 2025.
Potential issues remain on the horizon, however. October 2023 saw Aligned, which was the first major data center builder to sign up for the campus in 2022, pull out of plans to develop on the Quantum campus after it couldn’t gain permission to use diesel generators at the required scale.
The data center firm had planned to develop a 23.3 million sq ft and 264MW site across multiple buildings. However, the Maryland Public Service Commission denied Aligned permission to install and run 168 diesel generators on the campus.
A provisional order from the Commission would have limited Aligned to installing up to 70MW of generators in the first phase – which was not enough to cover its initial development – leading to Aligned pulling out altogether due to uncertainty about the project’s viability.
How Rowan intends to overcome the same potential issues is unknown at this point. Site plan documents all note: “Utilization of diesel generators is conditional, subject to permitting.”
On its website, Rowan previously listed the project as a 300MW campus with the potential to grow to more than 450MW. This has since been removed and told DCD it is "evaluating potential growth opportunities at the site."
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