The Norwegian government plans to present a new law to Parliament before summer. The law will entail a registration obligation for data center operators in Norway, reporting on power use, and requirements for proper security on the same level as telecom providers. "When we facilitate data storage on Norwegian soil, it is very important to safeguard national security interests", says Minister for Municipalities and Districts Sigbjørn Gjelsvik (Sp).
The Norwegian government also launched a legal guide for the municipalities that are tasked with evaluating permit requests for new data center establishments. How much power is available in the area, and will the establishment conflict with existing or other planned establishments, how many jobs will the project be able to create, and is the project sufficiently quality assured? These are some of the questions municipalities should ask themselves before considering saying yes to a data center establishment.
The guide was launched by Minister Gjelsvik at Stack Infrastructure’s data center OSL03 in Fetsund. Mayor of Lillestrøm municipality Jørgen Vik (Ap) and Deputy Mayor Thor Grosås (Sp) were also present, along with Managing Director for Stack in the Nordic region, Halvor Bjerke, and Bjørn Rønning from the Norwegian Data Center Industry.
Tips and advice for municipalities
In the new guide from the Ministry of Municipalities and Districts, municipalities receive tips and advice on what to be aware of when a data center operator contacts them or the municipality itself wants to establish a data center. “The guide will make it easier for municipalities to assess what is wise to think about when a data center operator wants to establish itself in the municipality. Many municipalities have requested such a checklist,” says Gjelsvik.
Some municipalities have been dissatisfied with data center establishments. The common denominator is that the establishment has been sold as a data center that will create many jobs but has ended up with crypto mining and few or no jobs. We take these inputs seriously. We believe that the guide can prevent poor processes. The regular data centers in Norway play an important role in digital infrastructure and contribute to industrial development and innovation. Therefore, it is crucial that it is done properly, says Gjelsvik.
In the guide (available here in Norwegian), eight specific pieces of advice are given to the municipalities:
1. Conduct a background check on the data center operator - including ownership, financial statements, and business model.
2. Carry out the necessary planning clarifications.
3. Set requirements for the developer. For example, demand repurchase agreements so that the municipality can take back the plot if it is not used for its intended purpose.
4. Check if the municipality has resources to support such an establishment.
5. Check if the project is adequately quality-assured.
6. Check if the municipality benefits from the establishment within existing industry, for example, by using waste heat or fiber infrastructure.
7. Check how much network capacity is available regionally and consider this against other planned establishments.
8. Contact Innovation Norway/Invest in Norway for additional assistance if needed.
Photo Credit: Stack Infrastructure