Microsoft opens data centre hubs in Sweden powered by green energy

17 Nov 2021

Image: © Alexi Tauzin/Stock.adobe.com

Microsoft Sweden’s general manager said the new data centres are ‘among the most sustainably designed and operated in the world’.

Microsoft has partnered with a state-owned utility in Sweden to open a “data centre region” in the country powered entirely by carbon-free green energy.

The tech giant’s partnership with Sweden’s Vattenfall energy group has seen it open a series of data centres across three sites.

Future Human

Microsoft has been ramping up its efforts of late to invest in sustainability as it increases its data centre footprint. In a blogpost ahead of COP26, the company singled out changes in its data centres as part of plans to become carbon negative by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

The company said it had adopted a new approach to water cooling and temperature management at its data centres. It is also continuing to invest in waterless cooling options as well as liquid immersion cooling. Overall, it wants to reduce water usage by 95pc by 2024 in all its centres.

Supporting the company’s commitments, the servers in the new data centres in Sweden will be cooled with only outside air all year around. Rainwater will be gathered and used to provide humidification and to support on-site data centre facilities.

Backup generators will run on Preem Evolution Diesel Plus, a Nordic eco-labelled fuel that contains at least 50pc renewable raw material and nearly an equivalent reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions compared with standard fossil diesel blends.

Microsoft is also pursuing a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification for the region as part of its aim to help conserve resources such as energy and water, generate less waste and support human health.

Sweden will be Microsoft’s third European Circular Centre, which repurposes servers and hardware at the company’s data centres. The Swedish centre will have the ability to support 12,000 servers per month.

“Our Swedish data centres are among the most sustainably designed and operated in the world,” commented Hélène Barnekow, general manager of Microsoft Sweden.

“This is an important launch for Sweden and Europe, as I am of the firm conviction that new tech innovation is the most important enabler for the world to reach the global sustainability targets. By moving to the cloud, we create new opportunities to accelerate the transformation to a more sustainable future – together.”

Microsoft has data centres all over the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US. In 2016, it even built an underwater data centre.

In an interview with Bloomberg this week, Microsoft corporate VP Noelle Walsh said that “almost every country in the world wants a set of data centres now”.

“Our plan is to have Sweden as one of the largest in Europe, equivalent to the Dublin and Amsterdam footprints.”

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com