NEW BRITAIN, CT — An old dilapidated Stanley, Black & Decker factory in downtown New Britain is in the midst of being transformed into a high-performance computing and data center for the 21st Century.
With what is being touted as “the world’s largest fuel cell installation” at 64 megawatts, the site has the potential to be occupied by almost 3,000 individuals over the next 10 years. It will also become New Britain’s largest taxpayer in the next three years, even with what’s expected to be a local tax abatement.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, a Republican whose father was mayor when the idea for the space was hatched, welcomed guests Monday to “the new hardware city.”
Stanley, Black & Decker has been making its tools in New Britain for 175 years, so building the Energy and Innovation Park in the same location as the factory, is about “redefining your past and creating a brand new future.”
She called the project a “game changer” for the city.
“When you talk about wanting to invest in urban areas in our state and wanting to give new life to areas that look like this – and we see many dilapidated factory buildings all across the state of Connecticut – this is exactly what our urban areas need,” Stewart said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who isn’t seeking re-election, said “having a first-class, world class data center situated here in New Britain made perfect sense because our research indicated you had everything you needed to run this center.”
Malloy said he enjoyed working with Stewart, who is vying for the Republican Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor in a three-way primary. Malloy seemed slightly annoyed, but pragmatic that he likely won’t get credit for the jobs once they are created.
There is technically no state investment in the property, aside from its agreement to purchase power. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection selected the fuel cell project as one of the winners of the state’s renewable energy bid. The fuel cell project will enable it to negotiate power generation contracts with the state’s two large electrical utilities.
Malloy said announcements regarding the state’s role will be made in the future, however, at the moment it’s $1 billion in private investment that’s driving the development.
The property will add over $200 million in revenues to the state and $45 million in revenues to the city of New Britain.
John Lennon, who helped finance the investment, said data centers are worth the investment.
Reports show that the U.S. needs 4,000 more data centers in the next two years to keep up with demand. Over the next five years, data storage needs will quintuple, Lennon said. Over that same period of time the average smartphone will generate three times the data that it generates today.
Every text, email, and download is being stored somewhere. The new data center will be one of those locations in the future.
The work on the site will start with the installation of the fuel cells by Doosan Fuel Cell America in South Windsor.
The project will also utilize the waste heat from the fuel cells in a ‘heating and cooling loop’ to serve surrounding businesses and help reduce the carbon footprint of the entire project.