Google begins work on €600m green data centre in Belgium

Ex-industrial Farciennes is one of Belgium’s most deprived regions. The data centre is expected to create 100 jobs (Werner Lerooy/Dreamstime)
Google has broken ground on its second data centre in the French-speaking Hainaut region of Belgium.

It’s part of a €1bn programme that also involves expanding the US company’s existing site at nearby Saint-Ghislain, its largest outside the US.

According to local broadcaster VRT, the €600m centre will be in Farciennes, and will bring Google’s investment in Belgium to €5bn over the past 17 years.

Planning permission for the centre was granted in February, on condition that it would be a “green data centre”.

Google has set itself the target of becoming a net-zero company by 2030. The Saint-Ghislane site is powered by a solar farm. This will be expanded by 1.4MW, reaching an area of 20ha.

The site in Farciennes, near Charleroi, will channel its waste heat into a district system rather than using water cooling. The Saint-Ghislain centre requires a million cubic metres of water a year to cool.

This facility may be joined by two more in future, depending on how the demand for digital infrastructure develops. It is expected that the growth of cloud storage and AI use will be two of the main drivers of demand.

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