Norway’s emergence as a strategic green data hub

Norway’s emergence as a strategic green data hub


Peter Zanatta, managing director at Attanz assesses Norway’s importance as a growing data market

My grandfather used to tell me stories about our Viking ancestry, which would paint vivid images in my young mind of Olaf the Hairy (or some such mythical ancestor) landing on the East Coast of Britain with twin battle axes in hand, ready to invade the poor local Saxons.

So, when I hear about the country synonymous with skiing, stockfish, and the ethereal Northern Lights now starting to become the Silicon Valley of the Arctic—without the valley or silicon, I take note as I feel a little piece of me still belongs there.

With its majestic landscapes and green energy, Norway is fast becoming a major player in the global data traffic arena. Here, the northern icy winds transform server emissions into profitable returns, fuelled by Norway’s use of its natural resources and cutting-edge technologies.

As global digital demands escalate, Norway isn’t just stepping up; it is jumping out of the longboat and charging forward to pioneer a sustainable data revolution.

The hyperscalers like Google, Microsoft and Amazon have jumped into this market, enticed by renewable energy and a climate that naturally cools overheated servers. Central to supporting these titans are the cable systems, such as the NO-UK Com consortium, which recently launched the NO-UK cable system.

This new submarine cable stretches from Stavanger, Norway, to Newcastle, UK, boasting a capacity of up to 216 terabits per second, thanks to Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme technology, providing a critical high-capacity link, which bolsters Norway’s global data network position.

This cable is part of a broader network that includes cables like Havfrue and Norse Atlantic and is a strategic asset in the digital economy. Add to this the old guard of cable systems, like the Scandinavian Ring connecting Norway to its Nordic neighbours, which now lay the groundwork for today’s ultra-fast digital highways. These legacy systems are a crucial part of Norway’s infrastructure, enabling its growing status as a data hub.

But it's not just the cable systems that are changing the technological landscape. The Norwegian government's role cannot be overstated. With a variety of incentives designed to lure tech giants and start-ups alike, Norway offers a compelling case for data-centric businesses.

These incentives include significant tax breaks, grants for technological innovation, and substantial support for renewable energy initiatives, making Norway an attractive destination for data centres. At the heart of this transformation are companies like Green Mountain, which highlight Norway’s commitment to sustainability. Green Mountain operates data centres that not only are powered entirely by renewable energy but also utilise the natural cool air and water to achieve energy efficiency.

This approach not only enhances energy efficiency but also contributes to local community welfare by reducing energy costs and dependence on conventional heating solutions. Remember, the same winds that can cool a data centre can make it chilly for the local communities.

The impact on the local and European economies is significant. Data centres in Norway are not just power savers but also money savers, with some areas boasting energy costs slashed by up to 40% compared to more southerly European locations. This economic advantage is a magnet for international investment and a boon for business. Moreover, Norway’s data sovereignty efforts ensure that data stored here is as safe as houses in a world where digital security is paramount.

So, as we look to the future, Norway's strategic importance in the global data ecosystem is set to grow. With robust support from a network of subsea and terrestrial cables, increased government support for tech industries, and a firm commitment to sustainability, Norway is poised to continue its rise as a leading data hub.

This quiet achiever in the race to go green will prove that strategic connections can revolutionise the digital landscape. So, if you’re considering a safe harbour for your petabytes, Norway stands out as the cool, clever choice.

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