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Powering these data centers is fast becoming a problem. Northern Virginia, for instance, hosts the largest concentration of data centers in the world. Tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have invested $126 billion in Virginia data centers. And the region's insatiable appetite for power continues to grow due to surging demand for cloud computing services.
Without reliable power, cloud service providers can't grow to match the pace of increasing demand. But the electrical grid can't keep up. Right now, power transmission bottlenecks in Northern Virginia could delay new data center development into 2026.
Data center developers across the pond are facing the same problem. Microsoft and Amazon halted plans to build new data centers in Dublin, Ireland, because of power shortages and threats of rolling blackouts. And British officials paused construction on new houses in West London until 2035 because data centers had already maxed out the local grid's capacity.
And it's not just power consumption that is sparking opposition to data centers. Concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, noise pollution, and the overall sustainability of data centers are fueling local opposition that is constraining where—or even whether—data centers get built.