Facebook, Google place data centers in Arctic

MarketWatchJune 16, 2013 

— Facebook and Google are pushing to go green by going Arctic to tap the environmental benefits of setting up shop in that part of the world.

Facebook last week switched on its first data center outside the U.S., located on the edge of the Arctic Circle, which it says could be the most environmentally friendly facility of its kind.

The social network said its facility in Lulea, Sweden, is “now serving live user traffic from around the world.”

The announcement follows news from Google Inc. that it has agreed to buy the entire output from a soon-to-be-built wind farm in Sweden for 10 years to power its data center in Finland.

What’s with the Arctic obsession?

“There’s a cool climate which is often useful for leveraging the open-air cooling,” Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook told MarketWatch. “There’s stable government, and a lot of renewable energy that could be leveraged.”

In fact, Facebook cited “an abundance of renewable energy in the region,” which makes the data center “likely to be one of the most efficient and sustainable data centers of the planet.”

“All the equipment inside is powered by locally generated hydroelectric energy,” the company said in a blog post.

The energy source is not only “100 percent renewable,” Facebook said, it is “also so reliable that we have been able to reduce the number of backup generators required at the site by more than 70 percent.”

Being in the Nordic region also helps when it comes to the perennial problem of keeping data centers from overheating.

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