The project called “Project Ember” has not yet been officially announced. However, several Danish media have investigated the project since the publication Avisen Danmark wrote in June 2018 that an unknown international company was working on plans to establish a data centre in the Esbjerg area. While the Esbjerg Mayor, Jesper Frost Rasmussen, is still tight-lipped about the data centre, the city’s Deputy Mayor Susanne Dyreborg confirms to DR that Facebook is behind the coming data centre: “Yes, I can confirm this and I think it is fantastic that they wish to invest in our area. It means something to the whole region. We will see new jobs, settlement of taxpayers and it will also have an effect on our infrastructure. Any development in our city is a benefit and we welcome all investments from outside parties,” she said to DR.
More specifically, Facebook intends to purchase a 2 million m2 lot for data facilities covering a field at the size of approx. 40 football grounds: 200,000 m2 data halls and 50,000 m2 for administration, logistics and service. Thereby, the data centre will be among the very largest in Denmark. In a consortium with the Irish operator Aqua Comms, both Facebook and Google participate in the establishment of a 7,000-kilometer-long transatlantic, submarine fiber cable named Mermaid, which will connect the Esbjerg area with New Jersey.
Facebook is already working on the construction of a large data centre outside the Danish city of Odense and Google and Apple are also establishing data centres in Denmark.
Green energy potential
Collectively, the data centres will consume enormous amounts of power. An analysis conducted by the Danish consultancy COWI for the Danish Energy Agency estimated that the total power consumption of the data centres in 2030 (17 TWh) will equal 17 percent of total Danish energy consumption.
Danish politicians and other stakeholders are working to maximise the share of renewable energy used by the facilities and to be able to use the surplus heat produced by the data centres for district heating – at the expense of less sustainable heating sources such as natural gas. For instance, Facebook estimates that its data centre outside Odense due to open in 2020 will be able to provide heating for 6,900 houses in the area.
Apple has announced that they will pay the expenses to establish the additional production of green energy required for its data centres in Denmark. Thus, Apple will cooperate with Danish partners to make to onshore wind farms with a capacity of 30 MW.
Earlier this year, Facebook committed to cutting its greenhouse emissions by 75 percent and powering global operations with 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2020.