With our digital behavior we consume massive amounts of data, and also more. To meet this demand, data centers are needed, among other things. More of these are also opening. There are currently 36 data centers in Amsterdam, only a part of which requires a permit. There are currently four procedures for an environmental permit for the establishment of a new data center. Are these energy-guzzling and sometimes colossal buildings a curse of a blessing for the city that is getting more digital?
Great Gray Investments Datacenter (GGID) is currently building the largest data center in Amsterdam in the Westelijk Havengebied. Over the years, three new buildings, each eighty meters high, have been worked on on the Donauweg. Total area: 100,000 square meters. The delivery of the first tower is planned for the middle of next year.
“It is really a very big one. You see that people are moving more to data centers. The bigger it is, the better it can be,” says Stijn Grove, director of the Dutch Data Center Association.
By comparison, the city’s science data center near the 72-meter-high building. The new data center in the port area will also use a large part of the electricity grid: the three towers will together use 100 megawatts of power. That is the city of Haarlem.
Partly because of this factory, it is now code red in the west: the power grid is full, which means that no new companies can establish themselves here and there is also no room for existing companies to start up.
“I understand that this is difficult to explain,” Grove responds. “But the bigger picture is of course that the whole of the Netherlands is almost not red, actually not at all, at the data center.”
Professor of energy technology at Eindhoven University of Technology David Smearders is critical. “We have actually parked a city like Haarlem on top of Amsterdam in terms of energy consumption. That is asking for problems.”
Kees Noorman of Ondernemend Amsterdam (Oram) is not happy either. Of course we would rather not have it. The request of this data center on the power grid was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The fact that it is now full is what benefits me.”
Grove is in favor of large data centers, because he believes there are many advantages. “The bigger the data center, goes to four large ones. The government has halved the power consumption of 64 small data centers.”
Data centers will use more power: grid operator Liander expects data centers in Amsterdam to use 40 percent of all power by 2030.
Despite the criticism, Smulders understands all too well that we need data centers. “Look: we can blame the data centers for everything, but they are of course because of us. We want to watch cat videos and YouTube. That extra data traffic is because of us. We also get into the car less, because we can Zoom online. an organic growth that will be sustained in a developing society.”
Smeulders, but also Kees Noorman of Ondernemend Amsterdam, doubt whether it is really worth building energy-guzzling data centers in the capital of the country.
“Why does that have to be done in Amsterdam? There is just now congestion (overcrowded power grid, red.). Of course we have a memorandum that prescribes that data centers should be placed where there is still capacity; such as in the Eemshaven”, says Smulders. Noorman: “The question is, of course, what is the scale. Is it at the city level, or is it on such a scale that you have to if it’s real.”
The solution, as long as there is a shortage of it, according to: the government should put more packs and outputs between applicants. At the moment it is still on the grid: first come, first served. Smeulders: “The officials now have to write hard to make this possible for the minister.”
“If a casino makes a request and you know that a hospital will do the same the next day, then you actually want to make another one,” adds Noorman.