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Apple, Facebook, Google asked to pay for wind parks in Denmark

Apr 13 2019 14:32
Christian Wienberg, Bloomberg

Apple, Facebook and Google are facing calls to help pay for wind parks needed to power their planned data centres in Denmark.

The companies have chosen the Nordic country, partly because of its abundant supply of green electricity. But a new report suggests that the data centres will consume so much power that local authorities may have to resort to more fossil fuels to cover demand.

The Red Green Alliance, a left-wing opposition party with 14 seats in parliament, wants a ban on new data centres until a law is in place that can ensure no business “mooches” on Denmark’s efforts to achieve carbon-neutrality, according to a statement published by the party on Friday.

The Alliance may end up providing parliamentary support to a new left-wing coalition government after elections due by June 17.

The centers are expected to consume about 7 terawatt-hours annually, the equivalent of 17% of Denmark’s electricity consumption in 2030, according to an April 11 report by the Danish Council on Climate Change.

Even when considering energy taxes and fees paid by the data centres, they will still cost Denmark some 400m kroner ($60m) a year because of the costs involved in expanding offshore wind capacity.

The three US tech giants have all said they want their centres to run on green energy and have published plans for wind parks. But the council said those plans still lack detail and a firm commitment. It’s also not clear if the new parks would draw on state subsidies.

“Large global companies shouldn’t mooch on the green transition and even burden Danish power consumers with the bill,” said Soren Egge Rasmussen, the Red Green Alliance’s energy spokesman. 

Apple is building a $1 billion data centre in Denmark’s western city of Viborg, which once completed will be one of the world’s biggest. Facebook has plans for a centre near the central city of Odense, while Google has bought land for a site in nearby Fredericia.

All three companies have bought or reserved land elsewhere for additional centres, although Facebook said last month it would drop plans for a second one for the time being.

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