The Google data center in Hamina, Finland, which was formerly a newsprint plant. Google announced major data center expansions this week.
Google's data center spending and investment continues to soar. The Internet giant announced a EUR450 million (which is about 608 million U.S. dollars) expansion at its Hamina data center in Finland. This comes in addition to an already announced EUR350 million (or about 473 million U.S. dollars) investment.
Worldwide, the company recorded a whopping $2.29 billion (in U.S. dollars) in capital expenditures in the third quarter of 2013 alone, driven primarily by massive expansion projects. This further investment shows there's no sign of this continued investment subsiding.
“As demand grows for our products, from YouTube to Gmail, we’re investing hundreds of millions of euros in expanding our European data centres,” says Anni Rokainen, Google Finland Country Manager. “This investment underlines our commitment to working to help Finland take advantage of all the economic benefits from the Internet.
Finland Project Is Very Efficient and Green
Google purchased a 60-year-old paper mill, the Summa Mill, in March of 2009 from Finnish paper company Stora Enso. The first phase of the project to convert it into a modern data center became operational in September 2011, and now serves Google users across Europe and around the world. The data center is one of Google’s most advanced and efficient worldwide, employing seawater from the Bay of Finland in its high-tech cooling system.
Starting in 2015, the data center will be primarily powered by wind energy via a new onshore wind park, which was announced last June. The company will sign additional agreements as it grows to power the data center will 100 percent renewable energy.
View of the data center and a wind turbine. (Photo: Google.)
Economic Impacts to Finnish Community
The initial construction work turning the paper mill’s first machine hall into a data center lasted just over 18 months. At peak, the new construction will provide work for approximately 800 engineering and construction workers. Currently, the facility employs 125 full time and contractor roles, which is set to expand alongside the facility.
This investment comes at an advantageous time for Finland, as the paper industry has been hit hard. Locating one of its most advanced data centers in the Kotka-Hamina Region helps boost the tech industry at large.
"Finland needs more foreign direct investments in order to enhance our economy, growth and employment. The government accepted the national investment promotion strategy last December,” said Jyrki Katainen, the Prime Minister of Finland. “In the strategy, the ICT sector, including data centers, has been emphasized as one of the priority sectors. Therefore, Google’s investment decision is important for us and we welcome it warmly."
Dieter Kern, Google’s Data Center Manager, noted, “We’ve received a wonderful welcome in Finland and are delighted by the country’s strong infrastructure and business-friendly environment. That’s why we’re happy to build out our capacity to deliver the lightning fast, easy-to-use services that people expect from Google.”
The increased investment comes in addition to a strong community outreach program in the Hamina region. In the spring of 2013, Google announced a new partnership with Aalto University and the regional development agency, Cursor. The partnership supports programs to improve the use of Internet by local small- and medium-sized businesses.
“Our ambition is nothing less than to jump-start Internet innovation in Eastern Finland," says Will Cardwell, Aalto University Senior Advisor, Global Alliances. "The Google data center in Hamina offers Eastern Finland a tremendous opportunity to jump from the industrial to digital age."