An undated handout photo showing rows of servers in the data centre of Google in Hamina in Kymenlaakso, Finland. The American internet search giant announced this week it will invest around one billion euros in what will be already the seventh expansion of the data centre. (Handout / Google)


GOOGLE on Monday announced it will make a substantial investment in what will be already the seventh expansion of its data centre in Hamina, Southern Finland.

Joe Kava, the global head of data centres at Google, said continuing investment in the data centre will help to unlock the potential of artificial intelligence for companies not only in Kymenlaakso, but across Finland and Europe.

The value of the investment is an estimated one billion euros, meaning the internet giant is set to have poured around 4.5 billion euros into the data farm inaugurated in 2009. Google is thereby “cementing its position” as the largest investor in the country in the past decade, noted Nina Kopola, the director general at Business Finland.

The construction process is expected to support some 1,900 direct, 1,650 indirect and 640 induced construction jobs a year for the next two years, according to an impact assessment by Deloitte cited by Business Finland. Once completed, the expansion is expected to create 100 jobs at a facility that presently provides employment to roughly 400 professionals ranging from electrical and mechanical engineers to catering and security staff.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) on Monday welcomed the investment announcement as positive news for economic and employment growth in Finland. He viewed that it will also highlight the country as an attractive and profitable investment environment for multinational operators.

Google on Monday also revealed that it will start transmitting the excess heat generated by the data centre to the district heating network of Haminan Energia. The heat recovered at the facility will satisfy about 80 per cent of the local demand and will start having an impact on the town’s energy balance as of next year.

The heat will be provided to the municipal energy utility for free and, ultimately, used to heat households, schools and public buildings in a region that is currently highly dependent on fossil fuel, according to Business Finland.

“It is inspiring that a single action such as this enables almost an entire city to run its district heat distribution on excess heat. This will deliver savings to households, but first and foremost this is an important climate measure,” commented Minister of Climate and the Environment Kai Mykkänen (NCP).

The Nordics are widely regarded as suitable locations for server farms, given their relatively cool climate, supply of renewable energy and societal stability. Google's Hamina data centre, for example, runs 97 per cent on carbon-free energy, also making the heat recovered at the facility 97 per cent carbon free.

The energy needs of server farms are projected to increase with the up-take of artificial intelligence.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT