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India’s Data Centre Revolution: Potential for 5X Capacity Expansion to Fuel Digital Transformation: Cushman & Wakefield

 Cushman & Wakefield report analyses that despite a strong pipeline projection of 3.29 GW of Colocation (Colo) data centre capacity by 2028, India will require an additional data centre capacity of 1.7 – 3.6 Gigawatt (GW). This is over and above the planned development of 2.32 GW.

Gurugram, 26 June, 2024 – In a bid to assess whether India’s data centre capacity will meet the nation’s growing digital needs, Cushman & Wakefield today unveiled a groundbreaking report: “Is India Building Enough to Power its Digital Transformation?”. Through a first-of-its-kind analysis, the report conservatively estimates the potential data centre capacity India will require to align with other major economies. The findings reveal a potential for an additional 1.7-3.6 GW data centre capacity, over and above the planned development of 2.32 GW Colo capacity, taking the potential of possible data centre capacity to over 5 GW.

The report states that at over 19GB, Indians have been the highest consumers of data per month among comparable nations. Despite this, India today lags in internet and smartphone penetration, reflecting the scale and extent that the data centre segment is headed towards.

According to the data, India’s Colo data centre capacity stood at 977 MW across the top 7 cities (H2 2023). Around 258 MW out of this was built in 2023 – witnessing a 105% YoY growth over the installed capacity in 2022. India’s current under-construction Colo capacity addition stands at 1.03 GW for 2024-2028, with an additional 1.29 GW being planned, taking the total projected capacity to 3.29 GW by 2028. This exponential growth is propelled by a confluence of factors, including a significant increase in data consumption fueled by rising digital penetration and adoption of data-intensive technologies.

Notably, more than 90% of this supply concentrated in key markets including Mumbai (which is a clear leader), Chennai, Delhi NCR and Hyderabad – which is fast emerging as the new data centre hub in India.

The report tries to estimate, on a conservative basis, the potential data center capacity that India will require for it to be comparable to other major economies. This report highlights the massive under-penetration of data centers in India, and that there is a need to significantly ramp-up investments into adding more projects in the pipeline. This increase in investment is also relevant considering the increasing demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is expected to further augment overall demand of DCs in India.

The report employs two distinct approaches to assess India’s potential data centre capacity. By comparing key metrics (mobile data consumption and number of internet users) with other nations, it highlights that India is far from reaching an oversupply situation, rather it is grossly under-penetrated.

Methodology:

1)         Mobile Data Consumption Approach: In this approach, the report compared the Petabyte(PB) / Megawatt (MW) ratio for 10 countries for the current and forecasted period using parameters such as smartphone penetration, average data usage / consumer/month and installed Colo capacity. India’s ratio basis this method stands at 13.2, implying that for every 1 MW of installed Colo capacity, 13.2 PB of data is being serviced in India. In contrast, China – which is the closest relevant comparison due to vast consumption and population – has a Petabyte/MW ratio at 4.5, highlighting the gap in data centre capabilities in both nations. If India were to benchmark itself against China for year 2028 using this metric, it will need an additional 3.6 GW of installed capacity to be added, over & above existing pipeline of projects.

2)         Internet Users Penetration Approach: The study has also analysed the Internet Users/ MW ratio to evaluate the gap basis the sheer volume of internet users in India vs other nations, vis-a-vis the Colo capacities in the respective regions. For every 1 MW of installed Colo capacity, over 670,000 internet users are being serviced. If India were to aim to bring this ratio down to China’s by 2028 (which stands at an estimated 203,735), India would need at least 1.7 GW of additional capacity creation over and above the current pipeline of Projects.

 India as Next Global Data Centre Hub

The report also emphasises India’s competitive advantage in constructing Data Centres at a lower cost compared to most other countries. This is attributed to a well-established IT and digitally enabled services ecosystem, coupled with more affordable real estate. The median cost of constructing a Data Centre (H2 2023) in India is estimated at USD 6.8 million per MW of capacity, significantly lower than most APAC nations – Australia is at 9.17 million, Japan is at 12.73, Singapore is at 11.23 and China is at 6.84. This positions India not only as one of the fastest growing data centre markets but also as a potential global data centre hub.

Data Centres’ Sustainable Growth

India is among the few nations aiming to double its power generation capacity to 820 GW by 2030, a move that will benefit power-consuming industries like data centres. The availability of ample power supply is a key criterion for the data centre industry, which is also sensitive to the quality of the power supply. Additionally, of the 820 GW expected by 2030, a dominant 61% is likely expected from renewable sources, emphasising India’s high focus on sustainability.

Gautam Saraf, Managing Director, Mumbai, and New Business at Cushman & Wakefield emphasised the significance of these findings, “Over the past five years, Cushman & Wakefield has made significant investments in our Data Centre platform, both in India and globally. We firmly believe that India is poised for a data centre revolution and possesses all the necessary elements to become a major global hub. This comprehensive study aims to highlight the immense potential and opportunities within India’s data centre sector. While much attention has been given to supply, our analysis uniquely focuses on the demand side of the equation. We are optimistic that a collaborative effort from all stakeholders will propel India to the forefront of the global data centre market.”

Vivek Dahiya, Managing Director & Head Data Centre Advisory Team, Asia Pacific added, “The Indian data centre industry has been witnessing exponential growth over the past few years. This is fueled by rapid expansion especially post Covid, in digital penetration levels and adoption of new-age technologies including 5G, cloud computing, IoT, Generative AI. Through this report, we have highlighted India’s untapped potential in the data centre space. We believe India needs close to 5 GW-6.9 GW of total installed to achieve healthier ratios. This necessitates commissioning 1.7-3.6 GW of additional projects beyond those under construction or planned. We anticipate this growth trajectory to continue and expect both existing players to expand and new entrants to join the market in the near-to-medium term.”