Spotlight on Sweden: Shining Star of Scandinavian Data Center Arena

Oct 31, 2017
by Josh Anderson

DUBLIN, IRELAND — Even in its coldest corners, Europe’s data center arena continues to heat up. At our Ireland and Emerging Markets Data Center Summit in early October, we connected with quite a few European data center insiders about the special sauce in various areas across the continent. One of those was Rick Abrahamsson, Regional Development Lead at Vattenfall AB, who gave us a primer on what Sweden – as part of a larger Nordic data center community – is cooking up for us in their Scandinavian kitchen.

“Well, being a power guy, [I] look at the total power system in Europe,” he began. “And just to give you a glimpse at what Nordic can give, the Nordic countries together – Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark – is a total market of more than 400 Kilowatt Hours of generated power. And most of it is green. The Swedish in ratio to the total is about 150 kilowatt hours of power and 97% is green.”

But according to Abrahamsson, what is perhaps most important to remember when evaluating Sweden is that the country boasts a tradition of building interconnectors between countries and running 24/7 industries as far back as 120 years. “So we have an extremely stable situation, where these countries incorporate together,” he explained. “We are approaching every year out of Sweden, down to our neighboring countries like Denmark and further down into Europe, almost 65% of the total energy that is used in forms of electricity in Ireland.”

So there is an oversupply of service, and an extremely strong power situation, said Abrahamsson. “You have a lot of land available,” he continued. “You have several end-point places within the grids that it has already been zoned for industrial purposes. The fiber connectors are in many of those places. And so what we do right now is sell these places ready to build. Like in Iceland, we are right now at a place in Sweden where we support the data center industry to a greater extent, in terms of power, than we support the traditional mining industries. And this has been coming since, I would say, 2010.”

Abrahamsson then said that in discussions on going global, special attention of course paid to the U.S., the E.U., and east-bound, with many questions focused on Asia. But Sweden now has a pipeline of almost 1,000 megawatts in discussion. “I wouldn’t be surprised, if we lumped in all of the Nordic countries together, we could be able to land an establishment in the range of 500-600 megawatts,” he mused.

“So we are also planning to be in that arena,” he concluded. “And I would like to underline something. As in Garry’s exceptionally good statement this morning, it’s rice, but not all of the rice is the same (check out the keynote speech given earlier that day by Garry Connolly for more on this “rice” metaphor). We are not competing for the same type of compute. But it’s not either/or. It’s definitely a combination of this that will make Europe successful.”

Center: Rick Ambrahamsson, Regional Development Lead at Vattenfall AB
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