Bulk Infrastructure was established in Oslo, Norway, in the winter of 2006 after its founder, Peder Naerboe, saw an opportunity to reduce local air pollution by moving logistic companies out of the city center. The company quickly grew to be a leading developer of industrial real estate in the region and has for several years been ranked as the number one real estate developer in the warehouse and industrial sector in the Nordics. As the Nordic region started to attract the data center industry, Bulk recognized the similarities between industrial real estate and data center developments and decided to unlock Norway’s vast surplus of cheap and renewable energy for the international data center industry. This led to building the first trans-Atlantic fiber cable between Norway and the USA together with Google and Facebook and the development of scalable data center campuses with cable landing stations in both Norway and Denmark. With large strategic land parcels in the Nordics and the development of multiple subsea and terrestrial dark fiber networks, Bulk’s customers range from specialized local companies to world leaders like Amazon Web Services.
Mission to Sustainable Future
Bulk Infrastructure aims to become a preferred partner for companies that wish to utilize renewable energy for its digital infrastructure by using its experience in the Nordics, where the company offers data center services and connectivity with some of the World’s lowest total cost of ownership. Bulk has a track record of delivering high quality and cost-effective customer solutions with short time to market. This aligns with the company’s vision “Racing to bring sustainable infrastructure to a global audience. ”
The Brain Behind Success: A Rewarding Journey
According to Peder, the media-attention on local air pollution from exhaust emissions and asphalt dust from studded tires, motivated him to build this startup. Further, he draws his inspiration from the book called “Tubes – A journey to the center of the internet” by Andrew Blume.
Peder feels that it is easy to blame the logistics industry for the environmental problem, but in reality, the industry had no alternative option. With US$150,000 in startup capital, Bulk invited landowners and investors to take part in the development-opportunity to make solutions for the industry. By securing the right locations to improve traffic efficiency and limiting the need for heavy logistics in the city center, Bulk played a major role in reshaping logistics in Oslo and creating “the Strip” along its major highway. However, the company’s success in industrial real estate and the transition to digital infrastructure would not have been achieved without Peder’s extreme curiosity and international mindset.
The time he spent at schools in the USA, France and England had open his mind for international capabilities before he started his career as a shipbroker in 1991. After eight years in international shipping and later working as an investment portfolio adviser from 1998-2005, he developed an understanding of international competition and looking at what drives the success for market leaders. Peder wanted the Bulk team to learn from the best and quickly so approached the World’s leader in logistics real estate, Prologis for the same. He believed that with the eagerness to learn from other businesses and their key to success, this approach would become a game-changer.
Bulk was invited to a visit to Spain where it could see how Prologis would standardize the design of the buildings to reduce construction costs, improve efficiency in construction and speed of build. Being determined to achieve some of the same efficiencies in Norway, Peder invited the French contractor building for Prologis in Spain, GSE, to come and build in Norway. The contractor with 40 million square meters of experience, enabled Bulk to create the ‘Bulk Module’, a highly flexible modular design made for the Nordic environment and local building codes. With the Bulk Module, the company could offer a faster time to market as construction time was reduced to half of the Bulk’s competitors. With a focus on cost and time efficiencies during construction and by using flexible but repeatable building blocks, the company could give the most competitive lease terms with the lowest total cost of ownership to its customers. The continuous focus on providing the lowest Total Cost of Ownership should quickly make Bulk the go-to real estate development within the sector.
After four years in operations, Bulk Infrastructure was able to sell a modern portfolio of new generation industrial buildings at a record price. The US$200 million sales proved that Bulk’s strategy of bringing international partnerships and industry experts to Norway had worked well. With the success of the sale, the company expanded its portfolio of green-field land in the Oslo region for more industrial real estate developments. The portfolio of land attracted the first of many visits to Bulk from international site selection teams representing the data center industry. However, the visitors did not engage at the time, and the unnamed teams left with no explanation of why they were interested nor what they needed. With the urge to be more prepared for any future visits, Peder decided to get familiar with the data center industry. He was shocked to find that the industry had greater CO2 emissions than the airline industry. Fortunately, later he recognized the unique position Norway and the Nordics could play in creating sustainable digital Infrastructure.
Creating Energy-Efficient Data Centers
Data Centers already create more greenhouse gas emissions than the airline industry as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic and studies suggest that Data Centers could account for as much as 13% of global energy consumption and 6% of carbon footprint by 2030. Where other industries are expected to slow down its greenhouse gas emissions by the use of new technology, the growing demand for digitization moves data centers in the other direction. The highest density of data centers can be found in Ashburn, Virginia, where the global giants keep expanding on fossil-fueled power mix. By creating new fiber-optic networks to reach surplus areas of inexpensive, renewable, and stable baseload power, Bulk enables sustainable opportunities for the digital industry. With renewable energy at 20-25% of the cost to main European markets, Bulk is now making “N01 Campus” in South Norway – the “Ashburn of Europe” on renewable energy.
The company’s N01 Campus has the same size as Central Park in New York and unlocks the largest renewable substation in Europe as it is located next to the 3,600 Mega Watt substation in Kristiansand, Norway. With twelve independent high voltage feeds and Bulk’s new subsea connectivity to the USA, Ireland, Denmark, and the UK, the site is representing a sustainable solution for the data center industry.
With this massive scale easily accessible via international transport and connectivity links Bulk offers international customers a genuine opportunity to increase or speed up the adoption of digital infrastructure in a sustainable and low-cost way. By bringing the knowledge and experience of developing standardized and low-cost real estate construction and developments to the data center sector Bulk now provide solutions and services aligned to Hyperscalers, Enterprise, and High-Performance Computing customer.
Strategic Partnerships Driving Innovation Solution
By choosing to create partnerships with global experts, Bulk hopes to fast track its impact and to scale rapidly with the growing demand for sustainable digital Infrastructure. Thanks to its collaboration with Google and Facebook for trans-Atlantic fiber, and Danish and Norwegian national grid and railway owners, the company is leapfrogging into the future. With the announcement of Amazon Web Services becoming a trans-Atlantic fiber customer on its Havfrue subsea fiber system to the Nordics, Bulk has caught the attention of a broad range of businesses looking for sustainable solutions.
Market Feedback and Awards
Recalling about the company’s journey so far, Peder informs that limited capital was enough to start Bulk Infrastructure in 2006. However, as the company had the purpose of solving a problem, it quickly became a success. When he was bestowed with DCD’s Business Leader of the Year Award in 2019, he recalls the jury saying, “Peder personifies the entrepreneurial approach that is key to success in the data center industry, without compromising on the strong sense of social responsibility and environmental stewardship the industry needs to see more.”
Transcending into the Future
Although reinvesting strong profits made from Bulk’s Industrial Real Estate business, the highly capital-intensive industry makes it slow to grow organically. While waiting for sustainable solutions to become available, the climate impact is severe. Peder states that Bulk is in a race for sustainable solutions and is expecting to partner with others to speed the company’s growth. As the data center industry is growing popular in the Nordics, the trend is the same on the other side of the Atlantic. Cheap and renewable energy in colder climate also attracts the industry to go North into Canada.
Bulk recently announced a new trans-Atlantic cable project called Leif Erikson, named after the Viking discovering America 1000 years ago. The planned subsea fiber cable between Norway and Canada will further unlock the Global renewable energy Giants. So, what started as a solution to local air-pollution in cold wintered Norway might become the air-pollution solution to a growing global digital infrastructure.