Google’s plans for a data center in Bissen, Luxembourg are looking more likely after local officials voted to reclassify 33.7 hectares (3.63 million square feet) of farmland into an industrial site fit for a data center.
While the land has now been reclassified, the data center project will still require an extensive environmental impact study which may not be completed until 2020. Google will have to pass this environmental test before it can start construction.
Google has been eyeing Luxembourg for some time, but it struggled to find land for a €1 billion ($1.15bn) data center project. Back in 2017, the corporation went as far as to give the government an ultimatum - help us find space we can use, or we will leave.
Bureaucracy in Bissen
At this stage, Google can now file detailed plans for the data center - but these plans will also require a vote of approval from local officials. Some local citizens have come out against the project, with more than 70 objections by residents filed with the local council.
As a condition of the reclassification, Google must ensure that the land around the data center is reforested. Nearly 540,000 sq ft of forest will have to be cleared during the reclassification process which will have to be reforested for environmental reasons as well as creating a visual barrier between the data center and a nearby village.
The massive quantity of water needed to cool the data center's servers has also been an issue and may require Google to draw water from the nearby Alzette river. The Attert river is geographically closer, but there are fears that Google’s cooling needs might use up valuable drinking water drawn from the river.
Jos Schummer, Mayor of Bissen, told The Luxembourg Times: "Since it is out of the question to waste drinking water and the Attert has too little water in the summer, we will probably have to draw water from the Alzette. It is fed by many sewage treatment plants and the quality of its water would be sufficient for cooling. We have made it clear to Google that a cooling solution made only with potable water would not be appropriate."
If Google’s plans fall through, the government plans to acquire the site and develop it into and industrial zone.