– Blame everything that is painful and difficult – E24

– Blame everything that is painful and difficult – E24

SKIEN (E24): Google data center welcome in Greenland. But then there was the current, then.


– The data center will be located there, says Acting Mayor of Skien, Jörn Inge Ness (Frp).

Before, it was rustling in the forests of Leopold Löwvenskiöld here in Gromstuhl, a few kilometers north of Skåne. Starting in 2026, the rush will instead come from Google's giant data center to the tune of nearly seven billion.

– When those buildings are built, there will be a property tax, Ness says.

– With the activity provided by the seven billion, a lot will happen here, also with regard to income tax. More residents will provide increased remittances and tax revenues.

A helicopter hovering in the air. E24 asked Google to enter the construction zone itself, but was denied.

Acting Mayor of Skien Jørn Inge Næss (Frp) shows the E24 area where Google's giant data center will be located.  The center needs large amounts of electricity, but NAS does not want to develop the energy locally.

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Great local activity

At the city hall in Skien, there is a meet-and-greet marathon with local businesses, says business manager Monika Lonbach.

– Among other things, we talk with real estate agents about the need for housing, she says.

Already, local companies are mopping up Google's share and building infrastructure. Google hired consulting firms Asplan Viak and Sweco, and created its own portals where local companies can enter what they have to offer.

Skien Business Manager Monika Lønnebakke and Acting Mayor Jørn Inge Næss (Frp) meet E24 at the town hall in Skien.

The business manager says Skane put a lot of effort into bringing Google here. About 100 jobs will be important for a municipality like Skien. Maybe it could be 200-300.

“We hope that over time Google will become one of our new core companies,” says Loneback.

– National responsibility

Then there was the current. Increased consumption can contribute to higher electricity prices.

Three players in Greenland alone can claim nearly ten percent of today's energy consumption in Norway:

  • Google needs 2-7 terawatt hours (TWh) for its data center in Skyne
  • Yara in Porsgrunn needs up to 5 TWh per year to replace natural gas with hydrogen
  • Vianode is considering a new plant in Bumble, which would probably need about 1 TWh per year

What is happening in Greenland is also happening throughout Norway. The desires for electricity are much greater than what is available.

Fears of energy shortages and the high cost of electricity have led to discussion about projects such as Google's in Skien, TikTok's data center in Hamar and Løten, and increasingly more energy from the ground to the oil industry.

This is the Google location in Gromstool, a few kilometers north of the center of Skane.

– What do you think if this contributes to higher electricity prices for ordinary people?

– All increased consumption affects the price if you cannot increase the power in the train. But then we have a shared responsibility. Ness says this is essentially a national responsibility.

I feel like we're currently being blamed for everything that's painful and difficult about the Norwegian power debate, but… 240 megawatts240 megawattsThe capacity of Google's planned data center is scheduled to reach 240 megawatts in the first phase. If this facility were to operate at full capacity around the clock, it would need 2.1 terawatt hours of electricity annually. It does not tip the balance of power in Norway.

– What do you think of the reactions due?

– People are concerned about energy prices and electricity bills. “I totally understand that,” Ness says.

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– I got a lot of flak

According to Næss, skiing could be opened up to some solar and hydroelectric power, but wind power is excluded. Næss recently said he was willing to chain himself to avoid local wind power in Luksefjell NRC.

– I have a lot of criticism because of that, the mayor shouldn't say that. But I support that. He says: I see that we also have to contribute, but in the short picture I don't want to build there.

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He points out that Skien has some hydropower, and has also invested in biogas and energy efficiency in municipal buildings. In the long term, Ness believes nuclear power could be the solution.

Heavy industry and electricity are closely related.  At Heroya in Porsgrunn, Yara wants to replace gas with hydrogen in its ammonia plant.  This will require electricity equivalent to about three percent of Norway's total consumption.

It also highlights that Google already has a long-term energy agreement with the Tellenes wind power plant in Rogaland.

– Therefore, they took their share of social responsibility towards this consumption. Things didn't go well.

– Well so much for heels

A few kilometers south of Skien lies Porsgrunn, where there is the so-called Porsgrunnsilva or Skiensilva (according to The city you ask) flows into the Frierfjorden.

Along the fjord there is a lot of heavy industry, such as Yara in Herøya and Ineos Rafnes in Bamble. Jannik Andriessen (AFP) is the mayor of Porsgrunn.

– It is important to provide more energy for Greenland, and there are big plans for Frier Vest in Bamble, Ineos INOVYN in Bamble wants electrification, Yara in Porsgrunn wants electrification, and Google in Skien needs a lot of energy, says Andreessen.

We are a bit behind, and as a nation we should have started thinking about this many years ago.

Jannik Andriessen (AFP) is the mayor of Porsgrunn.  Cornerstone Yara wants huge amounts of electricity to cut emissions, but Porsgrun has no plans to produce its own electricity.

Investment is currently being made in a number of business areas in Greenland. Skien is betting on Google, Porsgrunn on Herøya and the business park GreenlandsportenWhile Bumble bets on the business park The West is freer And the shopping center area Langroningen.

-Is there room for new and old industry?

“Not without us doing something,” says Andreasen.

– ghost

Mayor Porsgrun believes that Norway should be able to invest in new industries such as Google's data centre, while at the same time avoiding closing down the existing industry.

– Of course, it's a ghost you don't want to think about. She says: I remain optimistic that Norway as a country will be able to find a solution to its energy needs.

The ruling parties in both Skien and Porsgrunn have concluded agreements with the Industry and Business Party (INP) to move away from wind energy during this period.

– Will you get electricity only from other municipalities?

-There is something about entering into agreements to reach a position and implement other good policies. Andreessen says that agreeing not to study wind energy during this period did not save anything anyway.

– 70% of voters in the municipal elections clearly said that wind energy is not desirable in the municipality. I can't see that wind energy in Porsgrunn, the smallest municipality in Telemark by area, is able to solve this problem.

– If there is not enough power, what happens then?

– It will be a disaster.

– My biggest concern is that industry will have to turn off the switch because families will have enough electricity to cook dinner and do laundry. “I really hope we don't get to that point, and I don't think any government is going to sit back and watch what happens,” Andreessen says.

A helicopter flies over Gromstuhl, where Google's data center will be located.

– A classic dilemma

– I don't think this is easy, says Sverre Gotas.

The director of Herøya Industripark points to the Yara plant, which emits hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide every year. He hopes that both Yara and Google will be able to achieve the power they need for their projects.

– It's a classic dilemma. He says both sides are wise, but both are fighting for vital resources.

Sverre Jotas is the director of Herøya Industripark.  In the background is the Yara plant, which could become one of Norway's largest energy consumers.  The company plans to replace gas with hydrogen in order to reduce 800,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually, but this requires energy and the grid.

– How do you secure energy for Google, Yara and Vyanod here in the region?

– Then you have to build more energy production in a short time, and follow the advice given by the Energy Commission or NHO and LO. Onshore wind in the short term, and eventually offshore wind and perhaps also nuclear until 2035 or 2040.

– Does this mean that we are not ready for the green transition?

– It took us to bed a few years ago. We have lived in the belief that we have an infinite amount of power, says Gutas.

– I don't think any of us were clear about the cost of the green transition in terms of energy.

Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

"Web specialist. Lifelong zombie maven. Coffee ninja. Hipster-friendly analyst."

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