IFLScience: World’s Largest “Fortress For Data” To Be Built In The Arctic

Artist’s impression of the Kolos “Fortress For Data” in Ballangen, Norway.

By Katy Evans

A small town in northern Norway, on the edge of the Arctic circle, is about to host the world’s largest data center. This “fortress for data” will also run on hydropower and wind, making it the world’s largest data center run on 100 percent renewable energy.

And it looks like a Bond villain lair and sounds like Superman’s headquarters, so it gets extra points for that too.

Kolos, the company behind the facility, aims to build “the most sustainable, secure, and innovative data center in the world,” explaining on its website that as a world leader in renewable energy and with an abundance of green power at around 105 percent capacity, Norway was the perfect place to do it.

Many big tech companies use data centers to store servers and manage data. Facebook has one in Sweden and Google has one in Finland. They are often built in cold, Arctic locations as the servers generate a lot of heat that needs to be kept cool.

Mark Zuckerberg offers a rare glimpse into Facebook’s Swedish server center, reportedly the size of six football fields, in September last year.

However, they have come under some heat of their own for their massive power consumption and large carbon footprints. Kolos plans to set an example of how a center of this size can make use of its surrounding energy sources, water, and wind to successfully operate on 100 percent green energy.

According to its website, the Kolos center will operate at 60 percent reduced energy cost by utilizing its proximity to water for hydropower as well as naturally cooling the servers. With a projected initial 70 megawatts of power, the company expects to increase to 1,000 megawatts within the decade as it increases its computer servers to draw on.

Designed to utilize the nearby natural resources while fitting into its beautiful surroundings.

Kolos is also demonstrating how a facility like this can benefit a local community, not only by respecting the locale and designing the center to fit in with its natural surroundings, but by creating what it says will be 2,000 to 3,000 jobs and supporting 10,000 to 15,000 already existing jobs in the community.

The 600,000-square-meter (6.46-million-square-foot) center is being built in Ballangen, northern Norway, which “is surrounded by water and hills, providing a natural moat to protect against any physical risks,” Kolos claims.

All very useful for a Bond villain lair or a superhero hideout.