Finland cashes in on cold by luring data storage firms
By Pauline Curtet, AFP
July 21, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
HELSINKI--With freezing winters where the mercury can sink well below zero and cool summers, Finland will never be a destination of choice for the world's sun-seekers.
But its chilly weather has attracted technology giants such as Google and Microsoft that seek a cool haven for thousands of servers holding terabytes of data from around the world.
"In Finland we are excited that we can finally turn (our) cold climate and uneventful boring society into a competitive advantage," said tech-industry writer Petteri Jaervinen.
The rapid rise of the Internet and the digital economy have fueled an exponential growth in demand for data storage.
But data banks generate a lot of heat and are very expensive to cool, particularly in hot weather. That means companies can bank large savings by locating servers in countries like Finland, with its cool climate and temperate summer.
In 2009, Google bought an old paper factory in Hamina, a town near the Russian border, and converted it into a data center cooled with Baltic sea water.
Microsoft followed suit late last year with a US$250-million project to build a data center in northern Finland.
Microsoft also bought the handset unit of Finnish mobile telephone maker Nokia, but said Thursday it will slash 18,000 jobs from its global workforce, most of which are at Nokia.
Now, Helsinki hopes a new 1,000 kilometer fiber-optic cable beneath the Baltic Sea will give it an extra edge in the global data race — and a much-needed shot in the arm for its flagging economy.