Norway the perfect home for data
As the world becomes ever more interconnected and reliant on computing power, the need for massive data centres becomes ever more pronounced.
Now, the world’s largest data centre is set to be built in the Norwegian town of Ballangen, inside the Arctic Circle. The data centre is set to initially draw 70MW of power, with capacity to go up to 1,000MW, and will create 3,000 jobs and support up to 15,000 more down its supply chain.
Knut Einar Hanssen, Counsel Representative for Ballangen, said: “The data centre could lead to many new jobs and have a great effect on the city of Ballangen and many positive changes for the local community.”
The Ballangen centre will cover more than 600,000 sqm, making it slightly bigger than the current record-holder in Langfang, China, but slightly smaller than a planned facility in Nevada, USA. This is by any definition a major development.
The Arctic location might sound a little out of the way but it is in fact absolutely perfect. The naturally cold air and water in the region is a ready-made, free cooling system which can help to offset the enormous quantities of hot air produced by the servers, thereby ensuring the smooth running of the facility.
Norway also has an abundance of renewable energy sources which will make the Ballangen centre’s carbon footprint practically non-existent over its life span. Norwegian renewable hydroelectric power is the cheapest available in Europe and the national grid is arguably the most stable in the world – a quality which is vital for data centres. This low cost, highly secure power supply will make this data centre among the most cost-effective and competitive in the world.
Kolos, the American firm behind the development, even plan to spread the benefit of their new data centre around the country. Mark Robinson, co-chief executive of Kolos, has waxed lyrical about the local university which produces about 200 highly skilled technology graduates a year. It is fair to say that the Kolos data centre will become the hottest ticket in town for these graduates.
The other concern with huge data centres is that they must be secure from attack. As a key part of the international infrastructure they represent a tempting target for attackers. Data centres are ringed with easily as much security as a power station.
The placement of the Kolos system in Norway offers a greater degree of natural security than a more easily accessible site – and this is on top of all the other aforementioned benefits. The site is surrounded by water and hills which create a natural moat around the site. This is not an appealing target.
It is very hard to see a future in which more data centres will not be needed, and it is unlikely that we will ever truly outstrip demand in this field. We should expect to see more large data centres in such locations, and Scandinavia will surely host more in the future.