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Met Office and Microsoft to build climate supercomputer

Exeter Chamber welcomes the news the Met Office is working with Microsoft on the next supercomputer, bringing renewed long-term investment into the region.  The news affirms Exeter’s place as city with leading skills in climate science, technology and sustainability, and will support the highly skilled jobs in these areas offered by the Met Office and other partners.  Our congratulations to the Met Office – here we share the announcement from Ian Cameron, Markets Director at the Met Office:

“I am delighted to inform you that, following rigorous scrutiny, the Government has approved the business case for the procurement of our next supercomputer and has confirmed investment of £1.2 billion. As a result the Met Office have signed an exciting and ground-breaking 10-year multimillion-pound strategic collaboration with Microsoft for the provision of this world-leading capability that will take weather and climate forecasting to the next level and help the UK stay safe and thrive.

Through this capability we will be able to develop earlier, more accurate warnings of severe weather, protecting our people, businesses, and critical national infrastructure. It will also enable us to take forward ground-breaking new climate change modelling and unleash the full potential of the Met Office’s expertise in climate science, helping to build a resilient, low carbon economy and supporting the green industrial revolution. Economic analysis indicates the investment will result in financial benefits totalling up to £13 billion for the UK over 10 years. 

This significant, long-term investment in the Met Office, recognises the world leading science and technology capability we have in Exeter. It will ensure the Met Office remains a prominent, authoritative voice, supporting the powerhouse of environmental science based here in the South West and directly contributing to the UK’s global reputation for scientific research and innovation. Access to cutting-edge scientific and technological facilities will enable us to deliver ground-breaking science and services well into the future, supporting many high tech and skilled jobs through Met Office staff, suppliers and partners, primarily in Exeter and the wider South West region.

The new supercomputing capability will be based in the UK in two physically separated Microsoft Data Centres, which will improve our operational resilience and availability.  It is also expected to become one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable, powered through the use of 100% renewable energy and market leading energy efficiency. This will save 7,415 tonnes CO2 in the first year of operational service alone, in line with Met Office, Microsoft and UK Government commitments of Net Zero and beyond. 

When the new capability becomes operational, which is planned from July 2022, we will continue to use the IT halls located within the Met Office’s HQ building to meet our wider IT infrastructure needs. We do not, at this stage, have confirmed requirements for the IT Hall at Exeter Science Park after 2023, but we will be starting the process of identifying options for re-use within the next couple of months, in consultation with Government and other relevant stakeholders.

As a major employer in Exeter, we are delighted this investment will underpin our ongoing contribution to the economy and community of the city and wider area.”

Ian Cameron, Markets Director, Met Office