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World's largest’ data center planned in Norway

Norway will soon have the biggest datacenter in the world which will harness the countries rich natural resources

US-Norwegian venture Kolos has announced plans to build the world’s largest datacenter in Norway.

Located in the town of Ballangen, above the Arctic Circle, it will tap into the country’s abundant renewable energy sources.

Initially the datacenter  will draw on 70 megawatts of power, but the company expects to scale this up to 1,000 megawatts over the next ten years. For comparison, colocation giant Switch expects its datacenter complex ‘Tahoe Reno’ in Nevada, US - which it claimed will be the largest in the world - to offer 650 megwatts of power once completed.

Energy consumption is major issue for datacentres today and Kolos said Norway’s cheap renewable energy and natural cooling provided by the chilly climate and the site’s proximity to water will help keep costs down. The site is surrounded by water and hills for extra protection and it will be powered by local wind and hydropower.“We can scale up to two gigawatts of consumable renewable power. That’s a massive size that our competitors can't touch,” said Mark Robinson, Co-CEO of Kolos.

The company said data traffic to continental Europe and as far as East Coast US will be routed “from the Kolos node through high-performance fiber in neighboring Sweden”.

Kolos, according to the BBC, has raised several million dollars of funding from Norwegian private investors. The company is also working with US investment bank Headwaters MB to raise additional funding for the project. The data center is slated to open in 2018.

When finished, the datacenter will occupy 600,000m2 spanning four floors. This is slightly larger than a facility in Langfang, China.

Ballangen, where the datacentre will be located, is a municipality in Northern Norway with 2,600 inhabitants. If the Kolos datacenter proceeds as planned, it would provide a major boost to the area. The company estimates it will create 100 new jobs initially, which will increase to 2,000-3,000 as the project matures.

The news follows several notable datacentre projects in the Nordics. Norway already houses Europe’s biggest data center Leftal Mine, with a potential capacity of 120,000 square meters in an underground facility inside a mountain, and its Nordic neighbours have attracted data center investment from the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Anders Elbak, research manager at IDC Nordic, says the new datacentre could increase price competition in the Nordic region. He believes there is demand for new datacentre capacity, but is doubtful whether the demand is strong enough for colocation services.

 “Many organisations are turning to cloud services and are not interesting in owning their own servers and storage equipment – regardless of whether it is located in a third party data center or their own facilities,” Elbak said.

Read more on Information technology in the Nordics

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