Lauri Ikonen, Google’s Site Lead at the Hamina data centre, puts Google’s investments in the Hamina data centre and the surrounding infrastructure at EUR 1.2 billion between 2009 and 2019.
“These investments have boosted Finland’s gross domestic product by EUR 1.4 billion and created an average of 1,700 jobs per year over the same period. We are happy to be in Hamina and Finland,” he says.
Google’s Hamina data centre makes a major contribution to the region’s economic growth and opportunities. Digital skills have risen in importance dramatically in recent years, and Google has made substantial investments in developing such skills in Finland.
“We have trained over 20,000 individuals and companies in the last two years. We remain committed to supporting 60,000 individuals and companies in Finland in the areas of job-seeking, company expansion, and digital skills development by the end of 2021,” Ikonen says.
A carbon-neutral trailblazer
Google’s Hamina data centre also sets a good example to all other data centres around the world in the way it operates in accordance with sustainable development and achieves energy efficiency.
Its technically advanced cooling system was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The cooling system in Google’s Hamina data centre uses seawater from the Gulf of Finland to reduce its energy consumption.
Google is one of the largest buyers of renewable energy in the world. Google has enabled the construction of five wind power plants generating renewable energy in Finland via public procurement contracts.
“Google has been carbon-neutral since 2007. Since 2017, we have offset 100 per cent of the electricity we consume by investing in renewable energy. By 2030, we aim to be entirely carbon-free in terms of our electricity consumption worldwide, every hour of the day, every day of the year,” Ikonen says.
By 2030, we aim to be entirely carbon-free in terms of our electricity consumption worldwide, every hour of the day, every day of the year.
Google seeks to develop more efficient, environmentally friendly data centres through continuous innovation.
“In the course of just five years, Google’s data centres have increased their computing power sevenfold with the same amount of energy,” Ikonen says.
Google is now able to transfer server processing tasks from one data centre to another, wherever carbon-free electricity happens to be available.
“We have long had the flexibility to postpone processing until a more favourable time when we can make better use of carbon-free energy sources, such as solar and wind energy. Now we are able to utilise different locations based on where we have access to carbon-free energy,” he says.
A great partner
Ikonen says that Fingrid has been a great partner since the outset.
“It is difficult to predict the future of our business precisely, as things change depending on the market and other external factors. Fingrid is a flexible partner that understands our goals in Finland. It has supported us by providing useful feedback,” Ikonen says.
As the national transmission system operator, Fingrid is responsible for supplying electricity to its customers under all conditions.
“In our view, Fingrid has surpassed these expectations. Fingrid has provided us with a very high-quality service in all our projects. I am sure Fingrid provides the same standard of quality to all its customers. Fingrid has shown itself to be a reliable partner, and we are very happy with our current collaboration and look forward to working together in the future,” Ikonen says.
Google’s image impact is significant
Harri Eela, Sales Manager at Cursor Oy, was involved in the negotiations that brought Google to the Hamina region from the very beginning.
“The draws of the South Kymenlaakso region are its location, excellent infrastructure, and good energy supply, as well as the Port of Hamina-Kotka. The significant competitive factors in Google’s case were the ready provision of electricity in a former paper mill, sufficient cabling, and a big enough plot of land. In addition, the possibility of an ecological cooling system using seawater was an important factor in Google’s decision,” Eela says.
Eela says that Google is an important reference customer for bringing new international entities to Finland.
“Google’s image impact is significant,” Eela says.
How can Finland make itself more attractive for new investments?
In Ikonen’s opinion, Finland is a good place for business, and foreign entities have a more positive view of Finland’s business environment than Finnish companies themselves.
“We should not rest on our laurels – it is always worth striving for better,” Ikonen says.
Finland’s ratings in international comparisons have improved in recent years. Finland ranked 13th in a study carried out by the FDI Vision for Finland Working Group in 2020.
If companies are going to succeed, they also need a skilled workforce to draw upon.
“However, Finland failed to make the top ten with the other Nordic countries. For example, the Doing Business Index (DBI) compares the ease of doing business in each country. Finland placed 20th in this comparison in 2020, behind the other Nordic countries and the Baltic states,” Ikonen says.
In Ikonen’s opinion, Finland should focus on ensuring that the business environment is predictable and transparent from the perspective of safeguarding business activities.
“An important factor in attracting technology companies to the country is to have regulation that enables innovation. If companies are going to succeed, they also need a skilled workforce to draw upon,” he says.