The Rise of the North, data center edition

Facebook, the latest tech company to take the polar plunge, announced this week that it will build a data center just south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden, where the average low in January is 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you had told me this fact and asked me the rationale, I would have said something about cheap electricity due to some combination of abundant hydro power and cheap Norwegian gas, but the real reason is more elegant.
Drawn by the promise of lower electricity costs, a growing number of tech companies are harnessing the region’s abundant cold air to cool their servers, cutting expensive air-conditioning out of the equation.
So the electricity savings, which Gartner believes could reach “tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions [of dollars], of savings per year”, are from quantity as well as (more than?) price. Who knew cold air was so valuable?

Hat tip MR, for both this news and an earlier pointer to The World in 2050, which I apparently never blogged about, but was fun to read and also put considerable meat on the bones of the case for why northern countries will rise in importance in the coming decades (better weather, increased agricultural productivity, abundant water, wealthy countries with good institutions, etc.).

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