Saimaa Data Park – Northern reliability for the needs of data centers
The volume of existing data is growing at an explosive rate all the time, and the enormous digital leap that took place following the Covid pandemic in particular has increased the volume of digital communication. With increasing digitalization, also the need for refining and processing digital data increases. Where the data is stored is not irrelevant.
“When it comes to storing data, Finland and the other Nordic countries stand out, as we are among the best in the world in terms of the quality of the power grid and supply of power. In addition, our climate is more favorable to this than in Central Europe, for example,” Senior Advisor Arttu Ruismäki, who has focused on the locations of data centers. He was a member of the team behind the market survey commissioned for the Saimaa Data Park area.
Ruismäki works for the real estate and construction industry specialist group Granlund’s data center unit that provides strategic counseling, planning, development and commissioning services. Granlund’s clients include some of the world’s biggest data center operators. “My role is in location analyses and supervision of the interests of property owners, and I investigate suitable locations for data centers of different types. Understanding the importance of location is of paramount importance,” says Ruismäki, who has a professional background in the telecommunications sector and real estate business.
Data connections and availability of power are emphasized in location
Data center operators of different types have different strategic needs in planning locations, and also regional requirements must be taken into account and any associated risks identified and solved. According to Ruismäki, the most important background factors underlying the choice of location include the availability of power, data connections and connections to district heating and district cooling networks. Significant factors also include stable geological conditions, a cost-efficient cool climate and politically neutral social structure.
The availability of power is decisive, and therefore data centers are built so that they can operate independently using their own generators in case of any grid failures. In Finland and other Nordic countries, generators are, however, rarely needed. “For may international operators, it is almost unfathomable how secure the Finnish power grid is. Abroad, they almost do not believe it,” Ruismäki laughs.
Saimaa Data Park reliably meets the requirements
Underlying the Saimaa Data Park, located in Varkaus and Joroinen, is years of careful planning and research to ensure that everything is now ready in the area. According to Ruismäki, the pull factors of the area comprised of two separate sites (Ranta-Luttila, Päivärinne) feature particularly secure access to data connections and power. Available low-cost green energy and highly educated, easily available labor are also important factors.
“For empty plots such as Saimaa Data Park, one important criterion is how far zoning and the partner network have already been developed and what kinds of wattages are available. Here, all that has already been thought out, and the zoning plan makes it possible to start up right away. The availability of power in the area is excellent, telecommunications links have been secured and the partner network already exists,” Ruismäki says, saying that he considers the area to be particularly attractive to Hyperscalers.
“The uniqueness of Saimaa Data Park is in its two separate sites. This is a central and important factor for Hyperscalers that usually need an entity comprised of several physically separate locations. Sufficiently high start-up capacities for all sites from day one are an excellent thing.”
Data centers are significant for society, and they invest in sustainability
Similarly to other industries that use energy, sustainability is increasingly emphasized in the operations of data centers. “Carbon neutrality requires recovering all waste heat. Energy-intensive industries will be forced through legislation to recover condensation heat in the next couple of decades, and at best, data centers can even be carbon sinks. This is financially valuable to data center operators, because the use of condensation heat secures energy tax rebates,” Ruismäki says.
The cleanliness of electric power and recovery of condensation heat are extremely important even when it comes to image as, according to Ruismäki, operators are increasingly interested in how the power they use is generated. “This is also important to the business and customer acquisition of the data centers’ own clients, such as banks and financial institutions, because these parties want to disclose in their reports how their carbon-neutral service centers use renewable energy and recover condensation heat.
Why choose Finland, Varkaus–Joroinen and Saimaa Data Park?
Finland and Varkaus have been the choice of other internationally operating businesses, too. The pull factors include safety and security, existing partner and cooperation network, excellent location between the East and the West and the good and secure availability of electric power. Telecommunications links from Finland to Central Europe are based on three different routes in practice.
“Finland is a safe country for latency-dependent operations, such as data centers. We have stable geological conditions and good infrastructure, in addition to which we offer skilled and educated available labor,” Ruismäki underlines the special upsides of Finland and Varkaus. “Navitas Development Ltd. and Managing Director Jouko Laitinen have played a key role in uniting the different parties. We all pull together here,” Ruismäki sums up.