Morgan Stanley has applied to build an off-grid data centre powered by tidal energy in Scotland's Pentland Firth. The proposal follows the acquisition in September 2008 of the US investment bank's Current Resources tidal energy and project management business by Singaporean turbine manufacturer Atlantis. The transaction gave Morgan Stanley a majority stake in the business.
Atlantis held talks in October with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) over plans to establish a computer data centre near the Castle of Mey. This would be powered by tidal energy from the Pentland Firth; and surplus heat from the building would be used to warm greenhouses growing organic food under Prince Charles's Mey Selections.
Under the proposals, the data centre power supply would be provided via a private cable linked to an array of tidal turbines that would generate enough energy to power a city the size of Bristol. The scheme projects the first series of turbines to be operational by 2011. The total cost for the project is estimated at between £250m-£300m, and Morgan Stanley would look to recoup some of the investment by renting out space in the data centre to other power-hungry conglomerates.
The project is still in its early stages, requiring consent and approval from the Crown Estates, which owns the land, the Scottish government and the Highlands Council.
Finextra verdict: Banks are increasingly concerned with the issue of energy security. Morgan Stanley's ongoing investment in green technology provides it with both market opportunities and a way to secure its own energy needs while retaining green credentials.