Smart synergy in North Holland is attracting big name businesses
To the north of the city of Amsterdam lies the northern part of the Dutch province of Noord-Holland with its main cities Alkmaar, Hoorn, and Den Helder, home to innovative companies in the Energy-, Water- and Agri-food sectors. Synergies between these sectors are keenly sought and, as a result, many creative and effective collaborations have taken place in the region and are producing fruitful results.
Back to the future
Back in 2005, some 40km to the north of Amsterdam, AgriportA7 initiated the development of 500 ha of large-scale greenhouses and individual greenhouse developments of 40 ha to 150 ha were constructed on land reclaimed from the former Wieringermeer lake. This large-scale development, hailed as the most modern agropark in the world, was facilitated by state-of-the-art energy-, water- and data infrastructures existing in the region.
Using natural gas and combined heat/power units, the greenhouses themselves generate all the electricity, heat, and CO2 they require to grow their crops. Surplus electricity is sold on to the national grid and, more recently, to nearby datacenters that have gravitated to the region in order to capitalize on an attractive combination of space, accessibility, and energy supply.
Space and energy
In 2008, the first talks around datacenter development took place and opportunities were quickly identified that would further strengthen the energy infrastructure and potential synergies for the Agri-food industry. The combination of space and energy and room for growth brought first Microsoft, then Google to the area. In 2013, Microsoft invested in a 37 ha hyper-scale datacenter at AgriportA7 and, in summer 2018, Google acquired 71 ha for a possible future datacenter expansion. The attraction for companies like Microsoft were factors such as the short distance to Amsterdam, Europe's most important internet hub, the glass-fiber connection to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, and a cheap source of sustainable energy from the greenhouses.
To help stimulate further synergies, the regional development authority, Noord Holland Noord, have established the ‘North Amsterdam Campus’ located at the Agriport A7 site; a campus where hyperscale datacenters, service partners, and datacenter specialists from the IT-, Energy-, Engineering sectors, and research institutions form a dedicated ‘datacenter ecosystem’. The regional government also has a proactive policy towards new investors to ensure a fast and efficient site selection and construction process.
Room for growth
These developments generate a significant contribution to the regional GDP and create hundreds of new jobs. Ongoing datacenter development will strengthen the regional economy as a whole and its economic ties with the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area in particular. The region continues to invest in power, connectivity, and infrastructure in order to provide scope for future investments.
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