Snowhorn gives first details of huge Virginia data centre

Snowhorn gives first details of huge Virginia data centre project

19 March 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Former Terremark and CyrusOne executive Josh Snowhorn is planning to build a campus in northern Virginia to house hyperscalers and multi-tenant data centres.

Snowhorn (pictured), who announced in February that he had raised an initial US$13 million in seed funding for the project, has given more details to Capacity and Data Economy in an exclusive interview.

He is calling the new company Quantum Loophole, and it will aim at creating “highly sustainable, environmentally-sound data centre developments at scale”.

Quantum Loophole has identified a 2,000 acre (800 hectare) site that is already zoned as industrial land. “We’re not trying to do a crazy assemblage of agricultural land and then trying to take that away from farmers in the community,” said Snowhorn.

The zoning will allow for “20 million square feet” of data centre space on the property, he estimated. “Our land is almost equal to all data centre land that’s been built in Loudon County today. That’s the kind of scale of what we’re doing.”

Loudon County is almost at the very tip of northern Virginia, north-west of Washington DC and just outside Ashburn.

“We’re under a hard contract on the land. … We have escrowed funds and we have a contract with the seller. We are in the very last final throes of our funding process.”

Quantum Loophole will be providing a substation supplying 1,000MW of power, he said, and will be building a 100,000-strand fibre ring to connect the users.

“We are extremely close to Ashburn and to the centre of the internet,” he added. The fibre network will connect the users to Ashburn “and we will be allowing fibre providers to connect to us”.

Snowhorn said: “We are in a location that doesn’t take tax on infrastructure.”

The site will be ready to start development in July, he told Capacity. “There’s about a 12-month lead time on transmission hardware and transformers,” so it will be the end of 2022 before Quantum Loophole comes into action.

“There won’t be one building being built.” A number of sites will be under construction across the site at the same time. He has talked to “every hyperscaler”, he said.

Why the name Quantum Loophole? It goes back to work by Albert Einstein early last century on quantum entanglement, he said. “It’s about freedom of choice.”

Capacity will be publishing a full-length interview with Snowhorn about the project in the next issue.