The Green Mountain data center in Kalberg alone will consume as much electricity as the entire municipality of Stavanger. The contribution to society will be 500 job opportunities. maybe.
This is a discussion post. The post was written by an external contributor, and quality assured by Aftenbladet’s debate department. Opinions and analyzes are the author’s own.
These days, the “battle for electricity” is taking place across the country. NVE can tell us that we can count on high electricity prices for a long time to come, perhaps for several decades. We in the Stavanger and Agder region produce and export a large proportion of Norway’s electricity. However, we and our companies pay much more for energy than companies do in parts of Norway where there is a shortage of electricity.
Here comes Green Mountain’s plans to build a data center in Kalberg, which will use a lot of electricity and perhaps create 500 jobs. This is a good example of some of the paradoxes we presented above. The fantasy many have that we in Norway have unlimited access to clean, renewable hydroelectric energy is long gone. We have very little.
It is also important to consider what we as a society can get for alternative use of this energy, and the impact this will have on the prices and availability of electricity for other businesses and individuals.
Lots of electricity, few jobs
Then we have to wonder about all the new projects that will seize huge amounts of electricity. What do we get for giving one player or another this stream? How does this affect prices and future prospects for everyone, if one or a few players obtain large amounts of available energy?
Since Kalberg is now in the news a lot, it’s interesting to take a closer look at the project. The same amount of energy that a data center would consume to provide 500 jobs today provides 98,000 jobs, as well as electricity and heat for just over 146,000 residents in the municipality of Stavanger. It’s natural to ask yourself: If we’re going to use our energy to create the jobs we need after oil, should we invest in electricity for a) a diverse business community that provides many local jobs and tax income per megawatt-hour? Or b) a few companies that use huge amounts of electricity, providing few jobs and little tax revenue?
Introducing a large energy consumer that will “take” a significant portion of the energy available to our region will have consequences for energy prices and availability, not least for other businesses – both current and potential jobs. We can already read about companies moving their production from the Stavanger region to other parts of Norway, due to expensive electricity. We also know that many existing businesses already need more electricity for their existing operations. Either because they are growing, or because they want to stop using fossil energy in production and replace it with green energy.
A drop in the ocean
It should also be noted that the foreign owners of the Kalberg project must earn approximately three billion Norwegian kroner each year to defend the expected investment of fifty billion. Then she promises to pay 100,000 “compensation” if she doesn’t get 500 jobs. Let’s play with the idea of just becoming a workplace. Then 499 x 100,000 NOK must be paid in compensation. The profit would therefore be “only” NOK 2.95 billion instead of NOK 3.00 billion.
The decision to develop a large data center in Kalberg must of course take into account the impacts on soil conservation and natural diversity. But it is also important to consider what we as a society can get in exchange for alternative use of this energy, and the impact this will have on the prices and availability of electricity for other businesses and individuals. In this context, 500 jobs is actually almost nothing.
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