Last week, the ASX’s only supercomputing stock Dug Technology (ASX:DUG) unveiled plans for the world’s first carbon-free high performance data centre, potentially backed by green hydrogen.

The company pencilled in a 45 hectare site near Geraldton in WA which would initially have a capacity of 200 petaflops – “a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second”.

This is six-and-a-half times the capacity of its four existing sites combined – and just the beginning. More could be added as more demand is onboarded.

And to top off the deal, DUG said it was investigating “an onsite hydrogen energy battery system”.

High-performance computing helps businesses fulfil tasks that cannot be done by conventional computers such as leveraging complex data sets. It is slightly different to quantum computing, focusing on simpler tasks.


Geraldton ideal for hydrogen supercomputers

Speaking with Stockhead, DUG’s managing director Matt Lamont declared Geraldton was “one of the best places on Earth for renewable energy”.

“It’s got fantastic sun, and exceptional wind and one of the key things about is these they’re quite out of phase, so the sun during the day and the wind picks up at the afternoon and night,” he said.

“You only end up with six hours a day without wind or sun – that allows you to keep the power prices very low, land is fairly inexpensive relative to rent there and from our point of view only 3 milliseconds of latency from Perth.”

While he was tight-lipped on saying more about using hydrogen as part of that, Geraldton has been tipped to be a renewable energy hub. The WA government allocated $7.5 million in its April budget towards the Oakajee Industrial Estate (23km to the north) where a green hydrogen hub is planned.

Back in January the McGowan government received 65 expressions of interest to produce and export renewable hydrogen at Oakajee and Renew Economy reported that at least 10 came from global corporate “super majors”.

Whether or not hydrogen ends up part of the project the company certainly intends to use solar and wind with the intention of solving a major problem that has arisen with super computers – the carbon footprint.

“The high performance computers in America use more power than the UK does in total so their carbon footprint is large and it’s used mainly by scientists who are all very conscious about their footprint,” Dr Lamont said.

“This is a big deal [to be] green going forward.”


How have supercomputing companies managed COVID-19?

As with all other ASX companies, DUG Technology did notice COVID-19 but the impact was not as you might have thought.

Dr Lamont told Stockhead, “from a work from home perspective perspective we never missed a beat”, thanks to his company’s McCloud platform.

“It’s the impact it had on projects that we participate in.”

But with oil prices reaching two-year highs Dr Lamont noted there had been a “nice tick up in the oil and gas industry” and his company had again made recent inroads.