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March 30, 2023

Microsoft's Attempts to Build Hyperscale Data Centers Face Opposition

In the Netherlands, farmers in opposition to Microsoft’s hyperscale projects
The Netherlands currently has approximately 200 data centers, which mostly offer server space to multiple companies. However, since 2015, the country has also experienced the establishment of massive "hyperscalers" that are designed to cater to single American tech giants and typically occupy an area of at least 10,000 square feet. In the Netherlands, there are three hyperscale data centers, with Microsoft being the operator of two of them located in the municipality of Hollands Kroon. In the midst of the ongoing nitrogen crisis in the Netherlands, the courts have ordered a halt to numerous building projects. In response to the opposition and the ongoing nitrogen crisis, construction projects like those undertaken by Microsoft have been mandated to seek permits and prove that their operations will not worsen the situation. This is the reason why one of Microsoft's hyperscale data centers is still under construction.

“Hyperscale brings hyper-efficiency. Microsoft cloud services offer customers an energy-efficient and carbon-neutral alternative to running their own private data centers. Research shows that Microsoft cloud services are up to 93 percent more energy efficient than traditional enterprise data centers,”

- outlines the tech giant in an official document concerning the topic

However, not everyone agrees with Microsoft's statements and actions. Microsoft's data center projects have been caught in the middle of a conflict over nitrogen permits, pitting them against a growing and influential farming community in the Netherlands. Recently, a political group known as the Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB) achieved significant success in the provincial elections, becoming one of the two largest parties in the Dutch Senate. Founded in response to the nitrogen crisis, this group holds strong beliefs regarding data centers and finds them unnecessary.

Across Europe, including the Netherlands, there is growing opposition to the development of data centers. A project by Meta to build the largest data center in the Netherlands in the municipality of Zeewolde was canceled due to fierce opposition from local residents. As the promises of the tech giants expand and grow, European governments become more resistant, and building hyperscalers becomes more challenging.

Elitsa Kaleva
Elitsa Kaleva
Content Writer at TechNews180
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