OVH doubles the electrical capacity of its infrastructures

Faced with a boom in cloud computing, Big Data and the internet of things and the need to offer more powerful servers with better performance, OVH is doubling the electrical capacity of its infrastructures in Roubaix. It's a substantial job in terms of both the electrical power supplied and the nature of the work performed, as a pathway under the Roubaix Canal is being drilled to make way for high-voltage cables. As energy is the company's main raw material, this is also a vital project for OVH.

OVH has doubled the electrical capacity of its infrastructures

OVH, the leader of Digital as a Service, launched this major project just after announcing that it was building the OVH Campus, which will be up-and-running by summer on a plot of land adjoining Roubaix Valley. 20 MW - the equivalent of the electricity needed to power a city with a population of 250,000 - will be added to the current 17 MW of electrical capacity at the company's site in Roubaix. "The additional 20 MW will allow us to double our infrastructures in Roubaix", explained Lioney Deny, OVH Datacentre Manager. "We will be able to keep up with our own growth and that of our current and future customers."

A tunnel being dug beneath the canal.

For this new connection, electric cable conduits connected to an EDF site in Wattrelos (North-East of Roubaix) join up with Roubaix Valley 1.5 km away, where a delivery substation will be installed. The two 20,000 volt cables run through underground trenches on the main part of the route. The biggest challenge that the workers are facing is passing through the Roubaix Canal, which seperates the site in Wattrelos from the OVH site, while keeping risks to a minimum and without disturbing the environment.

Astonishing technology

That's where the directional drilling lead by EDF and French company FTCS Forage comes in: a 200-metre tunnel, around 40 centimetres in diameter passes under the canal. This is where the conduits will run. On one side of the canal, there's the operator guiding the drill; on the other, a van extracts the drilling mud. On a small boat, a technician checks with an electrode the pathway marked out by the drill head under the canal, and communicates his findings with the drill operator. "It's one of the biggest ongoing construction sites in the region", said Mathias Povse, Regional Director of EDF, who invited the local media for the occasion.

The electric cables will run through this conduit.

The construction work will last two-and-a-half months, without counting the preliminary analyses. Currently, the EDF teams are digging the trenches at the last few metres between the waterways and OVH buildings to make way for the electric cables.

This work is part of a large-scale project to expand the electrical power of the OVH infrastructures. The capacity of the Gravelines and Strasbourg datacentres will also increase by 50 MW and 20 MW respectively before the end of 2016.

The cables will also run through trenches.