Google starts construction of new data center in Belgium, investment of 1 billion euros

American technology company Google has begun construction of a 2nd data center in Belgium. That new site is in Farciennes, in the province of Hainaut. This is a total investment of 1 billion euros, with which Google will also expand its existing data center site in Belgium.

This new €1 billion investment brings Google’s total investment in Belgium to €5 billion. The company has already had a data center in Saint-Ghislain, in the province of Hainaut, since 2010.

Google will expand that first site with this new investment, but there will also be a completely new data center in Farciennes, also in Hainaut. Construction on that began today and will take several years.

“Additional data centers are needed because of the growing demand for digital applications from people, businesses and public authorities,” said Michiel Sallaets of Google.

What is a data center?

A data center is a building full of servers, computers that run to store information and make it available for Internet traffic. “Think about watching a movie on YouTube and making an online doctor’s appointment, but equally about applications of artificial intelligence that business leaders deploy,” Sallaets explains.

Sometimes companies keep their servers inside their own buildings. That’s mainly how it used to be, but increasingly they are turning to data centers. There they can rent a corner, so to speak, to have their servers set up.

The data center provides power and cooling for those computers, because computers that are on give off heat. The data center also offers security in terms of performance: if there is a power outage, they offer continuity with emergency generators.

Attention to sustainability

Google is committed to sustainability and energy efficiency. For example, the company is aiming for complete zero emissions by 2030. “That’s a goal, not for tomorrow yet so, but making our data centers as sustainable as possible is very important,” says Sallaets. That’s why the solar park at the Saint-Ghislain site is also being expanded.

“Furthermore, with the data centers we are building now, we want to be able to give back the heat released when cooling our servers,” he continues. “For example, to local governments or communities in which we operate.”

“Belgian data centers play a very important role in Google’s global infrastructure and in the energy transition,” says federal Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Green).

Creating jobs

The new site in Farciennes, the poorest municipality in Wallonia, will also create new jobs. “Once this new data center is operational, we’re thinking of about 100 permanent jobs,” says Sallaets. “That includes technicians who manage the servers, as well as employees for catering, maintenance and security.”

The data center in Saint-Ghislain already currently employs more than 400 people. After the expansion of that site, about 100 jobs will be added there as well.

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