If there are still tech giants interested in building one hyperscaledata center in the Netherlands, such a center is likely to be located in the northern part of Groningen. The province tells NOS that it is open to this.
A tour of the twelve provinces also shows that there are at least a further seventeen plans for new data centers or extensions of existing ones, of varying sizes. These are projects in North Holland and Groningen. Not everything is final yet. There may still be plans for smaller data centers for which a municipality and not a province is responsible.
The blocks of blocks full of ultra-modern computers have become the center of discussion in recent months, prompted by Zeewolde. There, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, wanted to build a data center on a site with about 245 football fields. The project – and with the mega data center in general – came under fire for its size and the power it requires.
The other municipality is Het Hogeland (Groningen). The spatial planning commissioner there, Mirjam Wulfse, informed the NOS that her province is still open to such large data centers. The responsible councilor in Het Hogeland does not want to answer yet and is first awaiting coordination in the council.
600 hectares of land
“We were approached by large space users who wanted to settle around Eemshaven,” says Wulfse. The province and the municipality then went to see where there was room. “We have arrived at Oostpolder, which is next to Eemshaven. It is a 600 hectare plot where large space users can walk.” The area is still agricultural land.
For Wulfse, there is room for one or at most two mega data centers, but only if it fits into the mix of companies in the area. In the end, she hopes for three to five parties; companies from the high-tech industry, car and battery companies and from the energy sector are also welcome. She would also like to place wind turbines there. No party has yet been announced that wants to build a megadata center in the area.
See here an overview of the plans in North Holland and Groningen†
NOS also spoke with three data center actors to hear how they experience the debate. For example, Microsoft, owner of a hyperscale data center in the Dutch Kroon (and busy expanding), stresses that “half of the Netherlands” runs with them. These are 350,000 companies that use the software giant’s online services.
“Are we using this data center 100 percent for the Netherlands? No,” says Rob Elsinga, head of technology at Microsoft Holland. “But that does not apply to Schiphol or the port of Rotterdam either.” Elsinga says it is difficult for people to assume only what the Netherlands needs.
In bad daylight
Alex Bit, technical director of BIT data centers, believes that the hyperscales put the whole sector in a bad light. “It’s actually a completely different branch of sport. In every possible way. We provide services to almost exclusively Dutch companies.”
His company serves customers from a typical industrial area in Ede; incomparable to the size of the tech giants’ data centers.
Finally, the Dutch director of the global data center player Equinix. They have so-called co-locations; data centers where you as a company can connect your own computers. “I understand the gut feeling ‘it’s ready’. That one wonders if the sector should grow so fast,” says Michiel Eielts, also chairman of the Dutch trade association for the sector.
He stresses that growth will continue for some time. The question is simply there. “Everyone wants a smartphone, but no one understands that you need a server in a data center for that.”