Plans for world’s largest data centre in the Arctic Circle made public

15 Aug 2017

Landscape view to Efjord and Huglhornet mountain near Ballangen, Norway. Image: alaver/Shutterstock

A small town in the depths of the Arctic Circle is set to be home to the world’s largest data centre, according to newly released plans.

With the amount of data generated showing no signs of abating anytime soon, plans are being drawn up to build the world’s largest data centre in the small Norwegian town of Ballangen.

According to the BBC, the project is being led by the joint Norwegian and US firm Kolos, which said the region is ideal for such a project with its cold temperatures and availability of local hydroelectric power.

Future Human

In its initial stage, the data centre would draw on 70MW of power but, according to the recently released plans, it would have enough space for as much as 1,000MW, from a vast array of computer modules.

Size-wise, the site would cover 60,000 sq m and would reach a height of four storeys.

This would make it the single-largest data centre in the world, as Amazon’s own 1,000MW version in the US state of Virginia is spread across multiple locations.

Otherwise, the current largest single-location data centres are typically less than 200MW in energy capacity.

Kolos data centre

Illustration of the proposed Kolos data centre. Image: Kolos

Ideal location

The project remains firmly in the planning stage, with Kolos revealing it has secured “several million dollars” in funding for the data centre, and is currently working with a major US bank to secure the rest.

Kolos said the site plans to excel in its availability of renewable energy, with both hydroelectric power and wind.

Speaking with the BBC, Kolos’ co-chief executive, Mark Robinson, said: “It’s quite literally the lowest power cost in Europe and 100pc of the power is renewable on one of the most stable grids in the world.

“It has unlimited access to fresh, clean, cool water as a secondary chilling source and there’s a university nearby, which produces about 200 technology students a year – and the idea is to employ some of these.”

The project is believed to be popular among local politicians and Norway’s own environment minister will host a public meeting to discuss its impact.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic