Google moves to construct two data centers in Groningen, a Dutch province. The national government refuses to authorize new hyperscalers, which the tech giant hopes to circumvent by cutting back on size.

Between 2014 and 2016, Google built its first data center in Groningen, a northern province of the Netherlands. Now, the tech giant moves to secure a second and third foothold.

The second location is destined for Westport, an industry area in the capital of Groningen. The local mayor and councillors agreed to the plan. The municipality expects to sign the contract shortly.

Local approval doesn’t guarantee that the data center can be built. The Netherlands has been struggling with unclear data center regulations for some time. Earlier this year, Meta was forced to abandon a planned data center in the municipality of Zeewolde despite having local approval.

Data center trouble in The Netherlands

Data center construction typically requires the approval of a municipality, its province and the national government. While a municipality may determine that the building fits the area, the province and government decide on energy matters.

Some data centers consume tens of megawatts of energy. A single megawatt can power roughly 1.000 homes. As data centers increase in numbers, the Dutch government gains ground to refuse permits.

In February 2022, minister Hugo de Jonge announced that new hyperscale datacenters would not receive construction permits for the following nine months. De Jonge described hyperscale data centers as data centers that have more than 10 hectares in size and consume more than 70 megawatts of energy.

According to the government, the period is needed to decide on new, stricter conditions for data center construction projects. The mandate, however, isn’t stopping Google from expanding.

Size

In addition to a data center in the capital of Groningen, Google is taking steps towards construction in Oldambt, a nearby municipality. Google recently signed a contract with the local government. The permits will be requested shortly.

Despite the ban on hyperscale data centers, there’s a chance that both projects will be approved. Google will cut the centers’ sizes to under 10 hectares in order to circumvent the ban. Only time will tell whether that’s enough.