Silicon UK: ‘World’s Largest’ Data Centre Set To Be Built In Norway

Matthew Broersma

The Kolos facility inside the Arctic Circle would scale up to a massive 6.46 million square feet and draw more than 1,000 MW of power

An independent Norwegian-American company has announced plans to build a data centre complex inside the Arctic Circle that it claims would be the world’s largest.

Kolos, with offices in Norway, Europe and San Francisco, said its planned facility of the same name would initially draw 70MW of power, but would scale up to 6.46 million square feet and draw more than 1,000 MW.

 

Giant complex

That would top Amazon’s data processing operation in Ashburn, Virginia, which is thought to use about 1,000 MW, but is spread across multiple sites.

In size the Kolos site would be slightly larger than the 6.3m sq ft Range International Information Group facility in Langfang, China, set to be completed next year.

The four-storey facility would stretch across 6.46m sq ft.

It would be larger than the current biggest data centre, Switch SuperNAP in Nevada, at 3.5m sq ft, but the Switch centre is set for an expansion that would make it slightly larger than Kolos’ projected size.

Most large data centres use under 200MW, with Facebook’s facility in Lulea, Sweden is limited to 120MW.

Kolos says the naturally low temperatures of Ballangen, in northern Norway, would be sufficient to provide natural cooling, with adjacent fjords offering abundant water as secondary cooling system.

 

‘Fortress for data’

The area has several wind farms and hydroelectric plants, meaning the facility would be powered entirely from renewable sources.

The power is cheap, too, with Europe’s cheapest electricity rates, Kolos says.

“The plan is to build a large, cost-effective data centre that has access to cheap green energy,” stated Kolos founder and co-chief executive Håvard Lillebo.

Kolos would draw on ambient air and water for cooling.

The company has raised several million dollars in a series A capital funding round and is working with a US investment bank to gather the remaining funds, according to the BBC.

It has selected HDR as an engineering and design partner and acquired the needed land, which is surrounded by water and hills, creating a “fortress for data”.

 

Mining heritage

The plan is backed by five local mayors and Norwegian climate and environment minister Vidar Helgesen said the country had reduced its tariffs in order to attract data centres.

Ballangen was formerly a major mining centre, with the last mine shut down only in 2003, and mining has left a demographic mark. Most people in the municipality are between 55 and 67 years old, and the area has Norway’s highest rates of disability and sick leave from work, facts mayor Per Kristian Arntzen has attributed to the municipality’s industrial heritage.

The small town has another mark of distinction as well, having produced two well-known musicians: both ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Geir Bratland, keyboardist in a number of Norwegian bands, were born in Ballangen.