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How Norway Makes 100% Renewable Energy Possible
How Norway Makes 100% Renewable Energy Possible

By Rhett Gill · 7/13/2021

What Makes Norway Different?

While cities like London, Paris, and Amsterdam continue to get much of the data center attention in Europe, some are starting to realize that there may be better locations to build a data center than in the cities with the highest PSF rent in the world. Enter Norway —a country where low costs meet high sustainability.

Norway’s cost of electricity is among the lowest in the world (and by far the lowest of European countries), a result of their plentiful natural and renewable resources. The country contains 25 wind farms and over 1,500 hydropower plants, making 98% of Norway’s electricity renewable. Also, according to Norway’s recent government figures, they currently produce an annual energy surplus of 5TWh and plan to raise that figure to 20TWh in the next 10 years.

Green Mountain and Green Energy

We recently spoke with Tor Kristian Gyland, CEO of Green Mountain, about what makes Norway an ideal location for data centers — and how Green Mountain manages to operate all of their data centers on 100% renewable energy.

Green Mountain designs, builds, and operates high security, robust, wholesale colocation data centers. The company currently offers three data centers in Norway: DC1-Stavanger at Rennesøy just outside Stavanger, DC2-Telemark in Rjukan, and DC3-Oslo, which is just 12 miles outside the capital. Each of these data centers are Tier III certified by Uptime Institute for design and facility, and the centers’ existing customers include banks, IT service providers, government agencies, and large enterprises.

When it comes to renewable energy, Gyland credits the country of Norway for making sustainability a viable and affordable option. While the cost of land and power in other cities and countries makes it more difficult for data centers to increase their capacity, Norway’s cost of power is 75% cheaper than FLAP data centers. That means a 10MW facility in Norway can save 155 million euros over a 10-year period when compared to what they’d spend in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, or Paris.

Solving for Cooling and Connectivity

One of the most pervasive challenges in the data center industry is the ability to ensure continual cooling throughout the day. At Green Mountain’s DC1-Stavanger, they can use cold water from the deep Norwegian fjords located near the facilities to ensure the most efficient and effective cooling process.

By using gravity, the cold water flows to the green data center cooling station without the need for power. They then only require minimal power to pump the cold water into the data center through heat exchangers (3kW of power for 1000kW of cooling). This unique cooling system results in high-quality, cost-effective, and energy-efficient data center solutions with a PUE as low as 1.2.

Of course, with all of this focus on renewable energy, are Green Mountain data centers able to rival the connectivity abilities of other European data centers? Gyland views connectivity as yet another Norwegian advantage. Due to the investments that have been made in and around Norway over the last three to four years, Norwegian data centers are able to reach 54% of all businesses in Europe with less than 20 milliseconds of round trip. According to experts, such a low latency rate makes it possible to move close to 90% of a data center’s workload from Norway to European countries.

With the lowest power prices in Europe and the greenest data centers in the world, Green Mountain is setting the standard for sustainability. And Norway is a model that other countries can look to as they work to attract productive and energy-efficient data centers.

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