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Finland provides stable and innovative conditions for data centers

In 2014, search engine company Yandex started to build one of its data centers in Mäntsälä, Finland. From the multitalented workforce to the stable state of infrastructure, energy and connectivity, Finland is an ideal place for a data center. Finland also provides an excellent environment for innovative cooperation. One good example of Finnish innovativeness is the cooperation between Yandex and the Finnish energy company Helen.

When you drive 60 kilometres north-west from Finland’s capital Helsinki, you will arrive in the small town of Mäntsälä. In 2013, many were surprised when the multi-billion-euro, Russian-based search engine company Yandex announced that it was going to build a data center in Mäntsälä. After two years of operations, data center manager Ari Kurvi can list multiple reasons why Finland is an ideal place for a data center.

“The infrastructure and global connectivity are among the best in Europe.”

– The workforce is easy to find and we have multitalented and innovative people. The Finnish national grid is one of the best in the world and therefore the electricity supply is reliable. In addition, the data communication capabilities in Finland are extremely good and the environment is very stable, safe and secure. The infrastructure and global connectivity are among the best in Europe, Kurvi explains.

Invest in Finland was the key player while selecting the site

When Yandex was looking for the perfect site for the data center, it received a lot of help from Invest in Finland.

– Invest in Finland was the key player when Yandex was selecting the site here in Finland. With help from Invest in Finland, we had good local connections to local companies, municipalities and cities, and information about data communication capabilities and power availability. We got assistance with all the important points that a data center operator needs while trying to find a site for a new data center, Kurvi says.

A virtual power plant and circular economy

One example of Finnish innovativeness is the cooperation between Yandex and the Helsinki-based energy company Helen.

– Yandex has enormous back-up power capabilities and, at the same time, we are trying to stabilize the national grid. With this cooperation, we are using the back-up power capacity that Yandex provides to stabilize the grid, states Markus Logren, the development manager at Helen.

In this case, because the Finnish national grid can be stabilized using resources that already exist, new power plants are not necessarily needed.

– At Helen, we are heavily interested in a climate neutral future. We are utilizing resources that are already there in a new innovative way. In that sense, this is a great advance in the circular economy, Logren explains.

Win-win cooperation

Yandex is of course also getting its share of the cooperation.

– For every company, the first rule concerns cost. We are saving a lot of money here with this cooperation. We are consuming electricity equivalent to the amount of about 1,500 households every hour. The energy cost is by far the largest cost we have. It’s about 80% of the operational cost when human resources are excluded and 55–65% when they are included.

The amount of energy consumption is remarkable and therefore savings mean big money. – With this cooperation, we will gain 5–10% in savings on electricity costs, says Kurvi.

Ready to scale things up

When the cooperation was first established in 2016, nobody could foresee the results. Today, both parties are extremely happy with the results.

– This cooperation is the first of its kind, probably even globally. We had some expectations to begin with, but the results are greater than expected, Logren states.

After seeing the excellent results of this pioneering project, Helen is ready to scale things up.

– We are looking into possibilities with different kinds of companies. This is not only a concept or a plan. It’s alive and kicking and we are ready to scale things up. We want to welcome other companies to join this as well, Logren hopes.

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