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Facebook to build massive server farm near the Arctic Circle

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Facebook has plans to build a massive server farm in Sweden, near the Arctic Circle that will use as much electricity as a town of 50,000 people, reports the Associated Press. The server farm will be the first such facility for Facebook outside the United States. 

The new Facebook server farm will be located near the Swedish city of Lulea, which is in close proximity a high-output hydropower plant that will provide the facility with renewable energy, and about 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle. 

While the Arctic Circle might seem like the absolute worst place to expand your business, it’s actually ideal. Servers, which generate massive amounts of heat, need the cold climate to stay at healthy temperatures. 

The move shows that Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, is expanding its reach further outside the US. 

“Facebook has more users outside the US than inside,” Facebook director of site operations Tom Furlong told the AP. “It was time for us to expand in Europe.”

Facebook currently has its European headquarters located Dublin, Ireland. According to Furlong, the new server farm will provide European users with better performance, since they will be accessing servers closer in proximity. As of now, the closest Facebook data centers are in Virginia and North Carolina. Facebook also has a server farm in California. 

The cost of building the facility is estimated at around $760 million, with $13 million potentially coming from the Swedish government. The data center will include three 300,000-square foot building, and is expected to be completed sometime in 2014.

According to Mats Engman, chief executive of the Aurorum Science Park, a business development firm, says Lulea is the perfect location for Internet companies to build new facilities. 

“Sweden has the highest penetration in the world of fibre to households, so it is very well connected,” Engman told the Telegraph. “You can get very easily through Finland into Eastern Europe and Russia.”

Facebook isn’t the only tech giant to take advantage of the cooling powers of Scandinavia. In 2009, Google built a server farm in Hamima, Finland, which uses sea water from the Baltic Sea to keep its servers at the correct temperature. 

[Image via Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock]

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