Wall Street Journal has written an extensive article about an undisclosed major US based internet company looking to open a data centre in Luleå, Sweden. The company is widely thought to be Facebook. The town has a population of about 50 000 and the investment into the area would be about 340 to 560 million euros. The reason Facebook is allegedly looking into Sweden is the advantage of cold weather.
While many Nordic inhabitants question the advantages of living in places where average temperature is just above freezing point, established technology companies look to these places for new homes for their data centers. Luleå has an average yearly temperature of two degrees Celsius.
Facebook’s possible data center wouldn’t be the only one in the region. Last weekend, Google opened their data centre in Hamina, Finland into an old paper machine mill. Google consumed some 2.26 terawatts of electricity last year. This is more than the consumption of 200 000 average American households. Most of this went to keep the data centres cool. Bringing this cost down does not only make economical sense, but is an environmentally friendly move as well.
Another aspect, that puts the Nordic countries and Luleå more specifically in the spotlight for the likes of Facebook is the very high, continued supply of electricity. Luleå hasn’t experienced a power outage since 1979. In addition to this, the town has a hydroelectricity plant supplying plenty of low-cost electricity, making the site ever more attractive.
While data centres aren’t huge employers, they do take some pain off regarding unemployment. Google’s Hamina centre employs some 90 people and a couple of hundred more through suppliers. A similar kind of a centre in Luleå would bring immense investments into the area, bringing a huge economic boost for the nearby region.
Image by Nir Nussbaum