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Data centers near towns and cities can disrupt power supply and take up valuable land - and in many cases they do not even need to be there

Rob Elder, VP Sales and Marketing, Data Centers

DATA CENTERS are encroaching on land in some of Europe´s most densely populated areas. The council of Zeewolde in the Netherlands has just agreed to sell 166 hectares of land for what will likely be Europe´s biggest data centers.

But even though local authorities have been welcoming Big Tech for quite some time, resistance is mounting from central governments and citizens alike. EirGrid, the Irish grid operator, now expects that data centers will use almost 30% of Ireland's electricity by 2028 and is now cooling off on the idea of approving more data centers development in the country.

Close to Frankfurt, Green party members have requested a ruling on the feasibility of energy promises related to a prospective new data center. Frankfurt´s municipal leaders are taking inspiration from the city of Amsterdam, which went as far as issuing a moratorium on new data centers in 2019.

People living and working in densely populated areas are understandably worried. Data centers do use huge amounts of power and, where there is competition for supply from homeowners and other industries, tensions are on the rise. This is the case now more than ever, with both record-high energy prices throughout Europe and great demand for renewable energy.

Bulk Data Centers has a different approach that spares urban power grids and land use. We recognize that there are some industries that need to be close to large conurbations, not to mention the need for housing near to where most people work.

Data centers for many applications do not need to be in or near urban environments. With minimal latency, the facilities we run in Denmark and Norway deliver the same performance as those on the outskirts of any continental European city. For the vast majority of applications having the compute power even oceans away from the end user really does not make any difference.

There are added benefits besides. Bulk´s 300ha site near Kristiansand is directly connected to the region’s plentiful hydropower supply and so runs on 100% carbon-free energy. Though power prices in Norway are subject to appreciation (and depreciation!) as with any marketized network, they are as much as 70% lower than those in other European countries still relying on fossil fuels to meet energy needs. And of course, the fossil-fuel market is much more volatile than the renewables. The most reliable and predictable source of such energy is hydropower, and this stability is becoming increasingly important against the backdrop of recent global trends and events.

Companies are increasingly becoming aware of the need to reduce emissions. That is, in most cases, easier to do in the realm of Scope 1 and Scope 2 liabilities: the first category relates to sources of pollution directly owned or controlled by an organization. Scope 2 covers emissions from heating, cooling and energy supply. But Scope 3, which covers the supply chain, is often tough to deal with.

For companies with high data requirements, Bulk´s use of renewable power presents the ideal opportunity to make inroads into reducing that supply-chain pollution. In addition, the Norway Data Center Campus near Kristiansand (N01) achieves dense connectivity via a range of intercontinental and regional fiber networks, meaning high performance and emissions reduction go hand in hand.

All this goes to show that having your data even in another country is nothing to worry about. In fact, with the European Union carbon-credits market at record high levels, cost-conscious data users might be wise to look to jurisdictions with a power setup that remains compliant with increasingly tough EU reporting requirements.