Sweden Pitching for More Data Centers

Building on the arrival of a huge Facebook data center, economic development officials in Sweden are marketing the country as an ideal location for data center development, with the full backing of the Swedish government.

Officials in Sweden are pretty excited about the new Facebook data center in Lulea, as illustrated by this huge ice sculpture of the "Like" symbol. Economic development officials are hoping to leverage that success to win other data center projects.

Building on the arrival of a huge Facebook data center, economic development officials in Sweden are marketing the country as an ideal location for data center development.

Ten Swedish regions are uniting in an effort to attract more data centers, an initiative supported by the Swedish government through  its investment promotion agency, Invest Sweden. The effort will start with a tour of Silicon Valley to meet with major IT companies.

In October Facebook announced plans to build its first facility outside the United States in Sweden. The location takes advantage of the cool climate in Lulea, a seaside town of 45,000 located at approximately the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska. That cool weather will allow Facebook to use outside air to cool the tens of thousands of servers that will occupy the new campus. Facebook also was  influenced by the stability of the Swedish power grid, which allowed it to to use far fewer generators than in its U.S. facilities.

"Other global companies examine the benefits of following in Facebook’s path discovering the economic benefits of establishing in Sweden and the quality of our energy infrastructure," says Invest Sweden’s Tomas Sokolnicki, Manager of the Swedish Datacenter Initiative. "Cleaning up the cloud is a big challenge for IT companies - one of the fastest growing groups of energy consumers in the world. We have available and prepackaged sites."

Understanding the importance of dark fiber access and low rates for high-speed connections are critical factors for IT companies,  Swedish officials are circulating a recent study (PDF) of 11 major business cities showing the relative affordability of Stockholm compared to global business centers. The Swedish government has also prepared a list of sites with potential for data center development.

Sweden's effort is a national initiative, but reminiscent of many local and regional economic developments in the U.S. that have targeted the data center sector. Iceland also has aggressively pursued data center projects since 2007, but has only seen major developments in the past year. One difference: the Facebook project gives Sweden an established high-visibility project.

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