Google to invest 450 million euros in Finland data centre

A woman chooses the Google Search web search engine front page on her tablet in Rennes, France on May 13, 2013
A woman chooses the Google Search web search engine front page on her tablet in Rennes, France on May 13, 2013
© AFP/File by Damien Meyer

US Internet giant Google announced Monday a further 450 million euro ($607 million) investment to expand its data centre in Hamina in southeast Finland.

The announcement brings Google’s total investment in the centre to 800 million euros.

“As demand grows for our products, from YouTube to Gmail, we’re investing hundreds of millions of euros in expanding our European data centres,” said Anni Ronkainen, the head of Google Finland, in a statement.

Dieter Kern, the head of the data centre — which has a unique cooling system using water from the Bay of Finland — said Finland’s cold climate and its well developed infrastructure played an important role in the decision.

In common with other data centres located in the region, Google has also been keen to promote the centre as a clean energy site as most of its electricity comes from a nearby wind farm.

“As the centre’s consumption increases, we’ll also conclude additional similar agreements to power the centre with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Google in a statement.

Another factor influencing the decision to expand in the area was the availability of a large premises — a giant paper mill bought in 2009 from the Finnish paper company Stora Enso.

About 2,500 workers have been employed in converting the mill to a high tech data centre which currently employs 125.

Expanding the centre will create an additional 800 temporary jobs in an area which has been hard hit by job losses in Finland’s declining paper industry.

“The investment shows that Google has been happy with Hamina and Finland but also that they expect growth from (nearby) Russian markets,” independent IT analyst Petteri Jaarvinen told AFP.

“The bad side for Finland is that data centres don’t employ many people.”

The Nordic region has attracted several large data centres in recent years — drawn to the region by the cold climate, cheap renewable energy and a skilled IT workforce — including the first Facebook data centre outside the United States, which is located in Luleaa in northern Sweden.

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