Google investment in Hamina data centre rises to €2bn

  • Sep 21, 2019
  • Yle Uutiset

International tech giant Google's CEO Sundar Pichai announced at a press conference on Friday that the company would be investing 600 million euros more in its main data centre in Hamina, southern Finland.

In May Google pledged a similar amount to construct and maintain the data centre. Friday's announcement means that the original sum will now double, bringing further jobs to the area, Pichai said.

The additional spending pledge will bring Google's total investment in the Hamina centre to some two billion euros, out of the company's total renewable energy project budget of 3 billion euros.

Pichai was joined by Prime Minister Antti Rinne at the press conference at the Government Palace overlooking Helsinki's Senate Square.

The investments will be paid out over 2020.

Pichai also said Google would be constructing two wind power parks in Finland in response to the increased electricity demands of the Hamina data centre. The wind parks will produce an estimated 250 megawatts of electricity.

One of the wind power projects will be based in Kainuu, in eastern Finland Pichai said. Google plans to purchase 125 MW of electricity from the upcoming 211.4-MW Piiparinmäki wind power park from Ilmatar Energy.

The Piiparinmäki park will be constructed in 2019-2020 without government support, and is set to begin energy production in 2020.

Pichai did not divulge any information on the second wind power park on Friday morning.

Rinne said that Finland's stability, security and high level of know-how are the top reasons Google has decided to invest so heavily in Hamina. Pichai agreed with the sentiment.

"We have found Finland to have a very supportive infrastructure, it's very welcoming for us to be able to make investments," Pichai said on Friday. "Our Hamina data centre is our most state-of-the-art data centre, and so we found it easy to invest more and expand and I thank the government for its very supportive policies, which make it possible."

Pichai also brought up artificial intelligence (AI) multiple times and said he was "impressed" by Finland's focus on training Finland's population in AI.

Google's philantropic arm, Google.org, will also be awarding the UK-based innovation foundation Nesta with some 1.8 million euros. Nesta will set up partnerships with trade unions in the Nordic countries as well as the Netherlands and Belgium. In Finland the money will be used to fund training programmes in emerging technology to be provided by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK).

"The training will be carried out in 30–35 workplaces all over Finland in companies in the industrial, logistics and service sectors," SAK said in a press release..

"Each training period will last two to four working days. Using innovative methods such as nano learning, gamification, and machine learning tools, the programme will generate robust evidence about what affects learning behavior and motivation."

On Thursday Pichai wrote in his Google blog that his company had made its "biggest renewable energy purchase ever", leading the way as the world's largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world.

"This purchase is made up of a 1,600-megawatt package of agreements and includes 18 new energy deals," Pichai wrote. "Together, these deals will increase our worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 percent, to 5,500 MW – equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops."

Google is relying heavily on European electricity production to power its future plans.

"Almost half (793 MW) of the new renewable energy capacity purchased will be located in Europe, specifically Finland (255 MW), Sweden (286 MW), Belgium (92 MW), and Denmark (160 MW)," Pichai wrote online.

Other investments will be made in the United States and Chile.

Google's investments in Finland are massive in scale, mirroring the size of penalties imposed for running afoul of various regulators.

Early in September Google paid 170 million dollars in penalties in the US over illegally gathering data on underage users and distributing it on YouTube.

Prior to that in March Google coughed up almost 1.5 billion euros after the European Commission found the company had misused its leading position in search engine advertising.

In July, 2018 the EU fined Google more than 4 billion euros, again for abuse of a leadership position. The record-breaking fine was based on the installation of Google applications on Android phones.

In 2017 the EU slapped Google with a 2.4 billion-euro fine for manipulating internet searches related to online shopping.

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