By MATTI HUUHTANEN, Associated Press
HELSINKI (AP) — Google is investing 450 million euros ($608 million) to expand a data center in southern Finland as part of Europe-wide development plans totaling hundreds of millions of euros.
The investment comes on top of the 350 million euros it spent on converting an old paper mill, bought from paper maker Stora Enso in 2009, into one of its centers serving customers in Europe and worldwide. It started operations in 2011, and currently employs some 125 people in Hamina, 150 kilometers (95 miles) east of Helsinki.
Google Inc. says the Hamina center is one of its most advanced and efficient, with a high-tech cooling system that uses seawater from the Baltic Sea to reduce energy usage and help keep computers running smoothly. In 2015, the plant will be primarily powered by wind energy and there are plans to meet future energy needs with "100% renewable energy."
The company says the expansion will employ up to 800 engineering and construction workers at the plant and that new, permanent jobs will be created once the extension opens.
"This investment underlines our commitment to working to help Finland take advantage of all the economic benefits from the Internet," Google's Finland manager Anni Ronkainen said. "As demand grows for our products, from YouTube to Gmail, we're investing hundreds of millions of euros in expanding our European data centers."
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who attended the announcement in Hamina, welcomed the investment.
"Finland needs more foreign direct investments in order to enhance our economy, growth and employment," Katainen said. "Google's investment decision is important for us and we welcome it warmly."
Google has 19 data centers worldwide, with 70 offices in more than 40 countries employing some 30,000 people.
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