Google buys Stora Enso paper mill building in Hamina for use as data centre
Search engine giant to use disused factory to house servers; proximity of new wind-park a factor in decision
Few property deals could better capture the spirit of the age than this: the search engine company Google is to buy the Summa paper mill building in Hamina from its current owner Stora Enso.
Stora Enso shut down Summa in January 2008 after 53 years in operation, citing prolonged losses.
“We are planning to set up a machine room or 'server farm' in Hamina. We are building a similar type of facility in Belgium, and we have like-minded plans in Austria”, says Google spokeswoman Kay Oberbeck.
Oberbeck will not say exactly how many data centres Google currently has in Europe. The company has research and development activities going on in all Nordic countries except Iceland and Finland. Until now, the company has only had a sales office in Finland.
It is not yet known how many people the new server hall will employ.
Stora Enso announced that the pricetag of the deal was EUR 40 million. The sale is to be finalised by the end of March
Stora Enso and the search engine company have agreed that some of the buildings of the paper mill will be placed under the ownershp of the City of Hamina for use in other industrial activities.
Interviewed by the Finnish News Agency STT, Stora Enso economic director Markus Rauramo was pleased that a solution had been found for the future of the entire mill area.
“I am sincerely happy that a buyer was found”, Rauramo says.
Paper manufacture at Summa ended in January 2008, and there are no plans to resume it. The closure of the mill led to the loss of 450 jobs.
Google will announce later exactly what its plans are, and presumably we will subsequently learn what the effect is on local employment.
In any event it is unlikely that the new owner will be able to replace the volume of jobs lost last year.
One aspect of the deal that is emerging is that Google's choice of location may have been influenced by the fact that wind energy company WinWinD are building their own factory and 12MW wind-park close to the site.
When the turbines are completed and the park's propellers start turning, Hamina Energy will sell the electricity generated to the surrounding area.
One of the buyers is likely to be Google - a server farm uses vast quantities of energy, not least for cooling, and Google have been keen elsewhere to ensure they meet their energy requirements in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Stora Enso closing Summa and Kemijärvi mills at brisk pace (18.1.2008)
Stora Enso to shut down two factories in Finland and one in Sweden - 1,400 jobs to go (25.10.2007)
WinWinD: WinWinD to build large wind turbine factory in Hamina, Finland (11.12.2008)
Stora Enso press release 12.2.2009: Stora Enso divests Summa Mill premises in Finland for EUR 40 million