Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Friday, October 20, 2017
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Facebook Datacenters Boosting Swedish Economy 

Facebook says its first European datacenter in northern Sweden is generating jobs as well as conserving energy.

The social media giant broke ground on the facility in Luleå, Sweden in 2011. The site is near the Arctic Circle. Because of its climate, which allows the social network to use outside air for cooling, Facebook selected the site for its reliable and locally generated hydro-electric energy. In turn, heat generated by rows of servers is used to heat the facility.

According to an analysis commissioned by Facebook, the Luleå datacenter has so far generated an estimated 900 "direct jobs" in Sweden. The social network giant estimates it has spent 1.5 billion Swedish krona ($223.4 million), generating an estimated 3.5 billion Swedish krona ($521.3 billion) in economic impact for the Scandinavian nation.

Facebook said it is currently building out its second datacenter at Luleå, which is expected to generate an additional 316 million Swedish krona ($53.6 million) in operating spending. More than 90 percent of that investment is expected to benefit the local economy, according to the datacenter analysis by Boston Consulting Group.

Facebook said it expects its datacenter operations in Sweden will have generated about 9 billion Swedish krona ($1.34 billion) in overall economic impact by 2020. That metric includes direct, indirect and "induced" impacts," the analysis noted. That translates into an estimated 2,200 direct jobs, most of them local. The Luleå datacenter ecosystem is also projected to "benefit" another 4,500 full-time employees, Facebook claimed.

Between now and 2020, as many as 60 new datacenters are expected to be built in Western Europe. Sweden hopes to become a hub for the continent's flourishing industry as it seeks to shift to a digital economy.

The economic analysis noted that Facebook invested about $595 million over 18 months to bring each of its Swedish datacenters online.

According to the economic analysis, Facebook's investment in Sweden has also fueled "the emergence of a new ecosystem of information and communications technology companies, the establishment of regional support organizations, public and private investments in local infrastructure and utilities, a boost in regional publicity, an increase in the number of applications to Luleå technical university and the establishment of follow-on data centers nearby."

Facebook released a similar economic impact study in May detailing its datacenter investments in Prineville, Oregon. The campus includes two primary data storage centers and a smaller "cold storage" facility.

An economic impact study commissioned by Facebook concluded that the Prineville campus has generated an estimated $573 million in capital spending over the last five years. Over that period, an estimated 3,600 jobs were created in Oregon, including about 650 in the central part of the state where the datacenters are located.

Economic impact studies are becoming a familiar tack among U.S. technology companies that are eager to be perceived as engines of economic growth.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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