Big chill: Bank of England awards six-figure direct deal to cool datacentres at note-printing hub
Contract for chillers at Essex site signed without competitive process
The Bank of England eschewed the usual competitive process in awarding a six-figure deal for a specialist firm to provide chillers to cool computing infrastructure at the Essex facility responsible for printing all banknotes issued in England.
Newly published commercial information reveals that, on 1 April, the central bank entered into a three-year contract with Trane, one of the world’s largest providers of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
The deal is worth £233,591 and was signed without any form of tender process for both “technical reasons… [and] for the protection of exclusive rights”, according to the contract-award notice.
Trane will provide ongoing support for chillers to regulate the temperature of datacentres located in Debden in Essex – the site where all Bank of England-issued notes have been printed for the past 66 years. The facility is now operated by specialist currency-printing firm De La Rue, whose current contract for the provision of English banknotes runs until 2028.
“The maintenance for the chillers involves the continued use of the supplier’s services while the chillers are serving the bank's datacentres, ensuring their continued operability,” the notice said.
To ensure overheating does not cause any interruptions to uptime – especially when data and systems are being hosted on behalf of public-services providers – inherent cooling mechanisms are a core part of most datancentres. To limit costs and improve efficiency, a number of firms specialise in the provision of facilities in the Arctic Circle.
The cooling technology for the Bank of England’s servers will be provided by one of the HVAC market’s biggest players. With roots dating back to the 19th century, US-based Trane moved its official global HQ to Dublin in 2009 – having been headquartered in Bermuda for seven years prior to that. In 2021 the company posted annual revenue of about £11.5bn.
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