Facebook announced it is building its first European server farm in Lulea, a Swedish town about 62 miles south of the Arctic Circle. This will be its first data center outside of the United States.
Facebook currently has servers in California, Virginia and Oregon and is building another complex in North Carolina. The company chose Lulea for its first European site because of its chilly climate, necessary for keeping servers cool.
Lulea offered a number of advantages, including a climate that offers the ability to reduce energy consumption through use of outside air for cooling, said a company spokesperson. Even in summer months, Lulea rarely sees temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Creating an overseas counterpart is expected to improve site performance for users in Europe.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace said in a statement that data centers were the fastest growing source of global energy demand. In the U.S., where 40 percent of the world's data centers are located, energy consumption by these facilities increased by 40 percent between 2007 and 2010. Greenpeace lauded Facebook's efforts toward using sustainable energy, but said it wanted to know more about the company's plans for powering the site.
In 2009, Google bought a disused paper mill in Hamima in southern Finland where it has been building a server farm. It has been attracted more by the availability of cheap hydroelectric power.
Tom Furlong, Facebook's director of site operations, is flying to Lulea Friday ahead of a press conference where the company will give a full outline of its plans. Furlong's team looked at more than 40 sites in Sweden alone, before narrowing their list down earlier this year to a choice of Lulea and Ostersund in central Sweden.