Google Expands $390M Data Center in Belgium

Internet search giant Google has announced a $390 million investment in the expansion of its data center in Belgium.

Internet search giant Google has announced a $390 million (300 million Euro) investment in the expansion of its data center in Belgium. The infrastructure improvement project is expected to meet the company’s growing demand for online services in Europe.

Located southwest of Brussels, near the towns of St. Ghislain and Mons, the facility became operational in 2010. The center currently employs 120 people, and with the additional funding, its staff will grow by another 200 jobs.

“Google’s significant investment shows that Belgium is a key business destination, including for new technologies. Although we’re going through difficult economic times, we keep attracting major investments from international companies,” Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said in a statement.

The company’s initial investment in the project amounted to €250 million, the equivalent of approximately $327 million. It is now one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world, using around 50 percent less energy than a typical facility of its kind.

But why choose Belgium? According to Slashdot, Campos and Digital Realty’s recent survey of North American datacenter operators indicated London and Paris as the most attractive European locations. Google, however, knows Belgium is the right choice for an expansion.

“St. Ghislain has the right combination of energy infrastructure and developable land. The local authorities also have a strong vision for how the Internet can bring economic benefits and jobs to the area. The Digital Innovation Valley project has created a cluster of high-tech businesses and put technology at the heart of the education system. As a result, we had a great team of people supporting investment in the area who were very helpful during our site selection process,” the company said in a written statement.

Google’s Belgian data center is the company’s first to operate entirely without water chillers, using instead, an advanced evaporative cooling system that draws grey water from a nearby industrial canal. A 20,000-square-foot water treatment plant prepares the canal water for use in the facility. The Data Center Knowledge reports that the center’s Power Usage Effectiveness is 1.11 over a 12-month average in 2011.

Google’s other data centers catering to the European market are located in Ireland (Dublin) and Finland (Hamina).