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Norway’s government steps up efforts to court overseas datacentre investors and developers

The Norwegian government is making a concerted push to attract more foreign investment into its datacentre sector by talking up the country’s green credentials

The Norwegian government has set its sights on courting more overseas investment from datacentre operators by positioning the country as the world’s most sustainable server farm location.

The country is already heavily marketed as a destination for green datacentre operators, owing to the abundance of cheaply priced renewable energy it has at its disposal, which is considered a tick in the box for server farm developers who are concerned about high energy prices in other parts of Europe.  

To capitalise on this, its government has published a strategy document that outlines the measures it plans to take to further stimulate the growth of the country’s datacentre industry, including a pledge to fast-track connections to Norway’s national grid for sever farm operators.

“Norway has a unique foundation for becoming the world’s most attractive datacentre nation,” said Linda Hofstad Helleland, minister of regional development and digitalisation. “We have a surplus of renewable energy, low electricity prices, good digital infrastructure and a cool climate.

“The government is now strengthening its commitment to a sustainable datacentre industry. This will create many new jobs in the regions and help develop new digital services throughout the country.”

The document also contains a commitment from the government to “strengthen the promotion of Norway as a datacentre nation” by working with entities such as Invest in Norway which are concerned with promoting the country to overseas investors.

In line with this, the government said it will also publish a guide in English for overseas investors on how to “make it easier to establish datacentres in Norway”, with an emphasis on doing so in a sustainable way.

As an example of this, the government said datacentre developers that want to set up shop in Norway will be expected to investigate how the waste heat generated by their sites can be reused.

Read more about Nordic datacentre developments

“The government will also create a heat map in order to ensure better resource utilisation of waste heat from datacentres,” said the strategy. “The map and the data will make it easier to utilise surplus heat for other purposes.”

In recent months, Computer Weekly has reported on several novel examples of datacentre heat reuse projects in Norway, including two involving local datacentre provider Green Mountain.

Heat reuse as a concept is growing in prominence within the datacentre industry as operators find themselves under pressure to minimise the environmental impact of their sites while taking steps to ensure their operations align with circular economy principles.   

Citing figures from a recent whitepaper about the growth of Norway’s datacentre industry, the government claimed the number of individuals the industry employs is on course to leap from 2,000 to 11,000 between 2021 and 2025.

“Datacentres are important building blocks of our digital infrastructure,” said Helleland. “Without the datacentre industry, important areas of society within the health, energy and transport sector would stop functioning.

“During the pandemic, the need for computing power has been enormous. Norway has an important role to play in further developing this industry.”

Read more on Datacentre energy efficiency and green IT

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