Google breaks ground on its first Norwegian data center as tech giant targets 99% carbon-free operations

Google Cambridge office exterior pictured in November 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Google has broken ground on its first Norwegian data center and has set ambitious environmental targets. 

The €600 million facility in Skien, 130 km south of Oslo is set to come into operation in 2026. Google bought the land - 2,000 acres - from forest owner Leopold Løvenskiold back in 2019.

Google said the data center is expected to create more than 100 jobs, while a study by Deloitte, commissioned by the firm, estimates that it will generate €0.59 billion in value between 2024 and 2025.

"This project will contribute to significant economic ripple effects in the region," said Google's Norway manager, Tine Austvold Jensen. "Now that we are starting construction, we are looking forward to a long-term and very good partnership."

The energy used by the new data center will be 99% carbon-free, and, like Google's other data centers around the world, should hit net zero emissions by 2030 for both the data center itself and for the on-site offices.

There are plans - as yet unspecified - to use the waste heat from the site for the benefit of the community.

The project has been given grid access for 240 MW of capacity - while Google originally applied for a total of 840 MW, it's currently in a queue for the rest.

The Norwegian data center industry is booming

The new data center is just one of a growing number in the country. In a recent report, industry body the Norwegian Data Center Industry concluded that the data center industry in Norway is growing rapidly, with investment in the industry in the coming years expected to reach between €1.8 billion and €2.7 billion per year.

The country's biggest players are Green Mountain, Bulk Data Centers, Stack Infrastructure, Lefdal Mine Datacenter, Orange Business, and AQ Compute.

Together, they have an installed capacity of 501 MW, of which around 150 MW is currently being used, and between them have applied for a further 1,555 MW.

"Data centers are important building blocks of our digital infrastructure. Without the data center industry, important areas of society within the health, energy and transport sectors would stop functioning," said Linda Helleland, Norwegian minister of regional development and digitalization.

"Norway has an important role to play in further developing this industry."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.