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Google puts $600m into Belgium data centre operations

European investments comes as the Dalles City Council unanimously approved a $28.5 million deal that opens doors to the setting up of two data centre sites in the small Oregon city.

By João Marques Lima

Co-founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

4 Mins

November 10, 2021 | 4:00 AM GMT

Google puts $600m into Belgium data centre operations

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Source: PM's Office

Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google is gearing up for further data centre expansion in Europe and North America as public cloud consumption continues to drive hyperscale investment.

In Europe, the search engine giant will invest €500 million (US$580 million) to expand its data centre in Saint-Ghislain, Hainaut, close to the French border.

Additionally, Google has acquired 51.8 hectares of land in Farciennes/Aiseau Presles, near Charleroi, for a potential future data centre development.

Google first entered Belgium in 2007 and has since invested €2.3 billion ($2.67 billion). The new capital commitment takes the business’ data centre and related infrastructure expenditure nationwide to €2.7 billion ($3.13 billion), including €1.6 billion ($1.86 billion) in its Saint-Ghislain centre.

The public cloud operator estimates its investments to have so far delivered on 2,800 direct and indirect jobs.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the new round of investment is “excellent news” and confirms Belgium’s position as digital pioneers.

Frédéric Descamps, Google’s data centre facilities manager in Saint-Ghislain, said: “Google’s commitment in Belgium is flawless. In addition, we actively support local NGOs, community groups, schools and businesses in the region of Saint-Ghislain and Mons.

“We are proud to have been at home in Belgium for more than ten years now and we still have many good years ahead of us here.”

Over in the US, the Dalles City Council unanimously approved a $28.5 million deal with Google that opens doors to the setting up of two data centre sites in the small Oregon city.

The facilities add to Google’s existing three buildings in the city and will be located on the site of a former aluminium smelter that closed in 1987.

Kate Franko, spokesperson for Google, said: “We are proud to expand our commitment to the region and continue the clean-up of the former Superfund site.”

However, the project carries with it controversy due to its gargantuan planned water usage. When Google acquired the Superfund site, it also acquired the locale’s rights to 3.9 million gallons of water per day.

As part of the go-ahead, Google is to transfer its water rights to the city and will build up The Dalles’ water capacity.

Yet, local residents have complained that both Google and the city are not disclosing exactly how much water the data centres will be using.

Under Oregon law, a business does not have to release such figures. A public records request has been filed by Portland newspaper The Oregonian/OregonLive to obtain the data. The Dalles City authorities are, however, fighting such request with a lawsuite.

Rural residents and farm owners worry the high level of usage might impact them directly or indirectly.

The Oregonian/OregonLive has created an in-depth and interesting question and answer piece overlooking the water worries in the Dalles and Google’s impact in the city here.

Last week, Google also won tax breaks for its two projects in the region.

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Co-founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

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