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Sustainability credentials of underground datacentre in Norway lure green investment fund

Norway’s Lefdal Mining Datacenter has designs on becoming Europe's largest server farm, and its green credentials have secured further investment to help it reach its goal

A sustainability-focused investment fund has acquired a majority stake in the Lefdal Mine Datacenter complex in Norway, which is sited in an underground mine.

The renewably powered facility comprises 75 underground data halls, and has capacity to accommodate 200MW of IT load, with 10MW already in operation.

The facility, first written about by Computer Weekly in 2016, also relies on natural sea water cooling to regulate its temperature, sourcing it from a neighbouring fjord.

The Columbia Threadneedle European Sustainable Infrastructure Fund (ESIF) has agreed to acquire a majority stake in the project, with the aim of supporting the further expansion and development of the site.

German datacentre equipment manufacturer Rittal will retain its longstanding minority stake in the facility.

Heiko Schupp, global head of infrastructure at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said in a statement that the environmental friendliness of the facility had caught the company’s eye, and was a major factor in its decision to invest.

“Lefdal Mine Datacenter is an attractive asset for ESIF due to its strong market fundamentals, competitive positioning and the level of sustainability within its operations,” said Schupp.

“With its potential to build out data capacity, we believe the company is well positioned to participate in the growth of demand for data, and the potential for capital growth makes the company a good fit for ESIF’s investment strategy.”

The colocation industry, specifically, is experiencing strong growth in Europe at the moment as the hyperscalers seek additional capacity to support their geographical growth plans.

The investment fund also cited the fact that Lefdal is set up to accommodate high-performance computing (HPC) workloads as another factor in its decision to invest.

The facility is already used by private cloud provider German Edge Cloud to run what it terms energy-intensive industrial IT workloads in a centralised way, including machine learning and HPC-related tasks.

Read more about European datacentre investments

Jørn Skaane, CEO at the Lefdal Mining Datacenter, said the investment comes at a time when the facility is about to start delivering on its longstanding goal to become a “world-leading” datacentre.

“With ESIF coming in as a shareholder together with Rittal, the stage has been set for building out and operating large customer requirements,” he said. “At Lefdal Mine, customers do not have to worry about limitations in future capacity due to the size of our facility and access to high quantities of renewable power and cooling.”

Linda Hofstad Helleland, Norway’s minister of regional development and digitisation, said the continued build-out of the Lefdal Mining Datacentre is a positive step in positioning Norway as an attractive place for server farm operators to set up shop.

“This represents a major economic opportunity for Norwegian businesses and society, and will be a key to the government’s policies and priorities going forward,” she said. “We welcome all actors willing to invest in new technologies that may contribute to sustainable growth in the Norwegian society.”

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