Recycling old Paper Mills into Data Centers

Even though this is primarily an information security blog, I wanted to share an interesting story regarding Google’s decision to convert an old paper mill into a data center in Finnland. I grew up in Central Wisconsin where there are many old paper mills, and the mill where my father worked was closed down last year. Google is planning to a new data center at old paper mill in southeastern Finland that it bought from Stora Enso for 40 million euros ($51.7 million). Google has dozens of data centers, or server farms, which consume significant amounts of energy, around the world. In early 2008 Stora Enso closed down the loss-making Summa mill, which consumed 1,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, after nearly 53 years in operation. Buying abandoned paper mills is a smart business decision because massive supply of electricity is already installed in the building.

Another advantage for Google is  the generating station. Many paper mills are on rivers and generate their own power. Even if they are not on the river, many have power generating stations associated with them as well. There is a good chance that the mill has a generating station hooked to it. Google could have purchased it, and  the new data center is probably connected to the power station to increase reliability.

There is a certain irony with a new media buying and converting a mill from an old media company…