September 30, 2022
Meta’s plans to build a Dutch data center spark political disturbances

In December the city of Ziewolde, 50km east of Amsterdam, approved plans to build the largest facility of its kind in the Netherlands, allowing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to serve users across Europe.

The facility, which will use 1.38 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity and cover 166 hectares (410 acres) of agricultural land, is expected to run on green energy and create 400 permanent jobs.

This has been opposed by some environmental campaigners who do not want the limited supply of sustainable electricity currently being generated in the country to be used by a multinational company.

A majority of parties in the Senate on Tuesday supported a resolution asking the government led by Prime Minister Mark Root to halt the project until a national policy on data centers is developed.

The proposal asked the government to delay construction until it can be determined whether the data center meets an as-yet-undetermined national policy on environmental regulations and facilities.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rutte’s own Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and another ruling coalition party, the Christian Democrats, voted against the proposal.

“This is a purely political decision,” Stijn Grove, managing director of the Dutch Data Center Association, said in a response sent to Reuters, adding that it was made “largely because it is Facebook”, which is a big deal. Tech is facing a negative backlash against it. whole.

Not only are large data centers more efficient and environmentally friendly, he said, they are needed to improve the digital infrastructure of Europe, which lags behind North America and Asia.

Grove said the Netherlands cannot have the ambition to become a digital leader without supporting the necessary infrastructure.

Roughly 60 data center operators in the Netherlands account for about 2.8 percent of the national electricity consumption, the association said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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