Amsterdam declares halt to datacentre construction

The Dutch municipalities of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer have halted the construction of datacentres in their regions over fears about the amount of space and energy they require.

Amsterdam has been experiencing a datacentre boom in recent years – there are now 34 of them within a 20km radius of the city centre, making up a third of all datacentres in Europe, according to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.

However, the growth in the market is placing increasing strain on the Amsterdam Municipal Area. A large scale centre can require up to 200MW of power and, according to Dutch grid operator Liander, they could use as much as 37% of the energy in the city by 2030.

They also take up a substantial amount of space and are being blamed for driving up land prices in the property market.

Marieke van Doorninck, alderman for sustainability and spatial development of Amsterdam, told Computer Weekly: "At the moment, municipalities have hardly any instruments at their disposal to control where the datacentres are located, or what requirements they have to meet."

The municipalities have said the halt is temporary while a policy and planning framework is thrashed out.

Datacentres in the Netherlands (DDA)

Trade group Dutch Data Centres issued a press release on 12 July expressing "regret at this sudden and, in our view, harsh decision".

It pointed out that datacentres account for 20% of foreign direct investment in the Netherlands, and added that the industry was "strongly committed" to making itself more sustainable and used no more space than other sectors.

Stijn Grove, director of the DDA, added in a later release: "After the announcement, foreign investors have already expressed concern about the uncertain climate in the Amsterdam region. Eventually, these concerns will translate into a deteriorated business climate. That means that we, as a representative of the digital sector, are raising the alarm now."

In recent years, the Netherlands has attracted about €2.5bn in investment from Google. It is also the regional hub for Microsoft’s cloud computing, and a hub for internet and datacentre company Equinix.

Top image: Equinix’s Amsterdam datacentre (Equinix)

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