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Hyperscale data center coming to Esbjerg
Jun 13th, 2018 by miki

2018-06-13 updated with 1 new local + 1 new national press, rewrite first paragraphs, mention project name, mention DDI trade association, mention investindk & havfrue cable
2018-06-12 initial commit

Project Ember?

The local media of Western Jutland, JydskeVestkysten, has spearheaded the coverage of an interesting technology related story over the last weeks. The Esbjerg municipality planning department has started to reveal details of the preparations for the development of an industrial site on a large swath of land just outside of Esbjerg seemingly for the purpose of a hyperscale data center of the proportions employed by FANG sized (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) organizations. According to the media the project is by some municipal sources referred to as “Project Ember“. I have been unable to confirm this name from official documentation yet released or any other sources.

Neither the newly formed trade association named Danish Data Center Industry (DDI/DanishDCI) (in Danish: “Datacenter Industrien“) or the state’s Invest in Denmark office has brought any more light to the issue. The former has, however, tweeted a couple of times about it when it hit the national media and the latter has brought forward a vague hint that Western Denmark is an “attractive data centre hub“. I’m not in any doubt that this is partly driven by the announcement of the “HAVFRUE consortium“, which includes Facebook, that they intend to install a 108 Tb/s transatlantic cable crossing from New Jersey to Ireland and Esbjerg, as also announced by Invest in Denmark in January.

Below is an outline of the area in question (on an OpenStreetMap based map using the umap project) that I have drawn from the only geographical details yet leaked which is contained in the meeting agenda mentioned below. See also a visualisation of the area on a photo taken by local photographer Christer Holte.

I have collected links to all official documentation I have been able to locate and to press coverage below, and intend to keep updating this post as details is being revealed.

See full screen

Official Documentation

  • 2018-05-28: Area mentioned in agenda for meeting in Municipal Technical & Construction committee on 2018-06-01
    • Published agenda/minutes has details in item 7, p. 14-16 (case referred to as “Dok.nr.: 11186”, “Sagsid.: 18/12587”)
    • Area is referred to as “a contiguous area laid out for commercial purposes
    • Includes map with outline of area
    • Suggests public roads being closed for cars, new cycling paths being constructed passing North of area
    • Approved by the committee
  • 2018-06-01: Public hearing announced about changed use of the area
    • Hearing closes 2018-06-15 (14 day period)
    • Accompanying report about environmental impact (VVM) discloses even more details
      • Area referred to as used for “establishing of extraordinary space consuming commercial entity near Esbjerg in the form of a data center” (ch. 2, p. 8)
      • Total area: 250 ha = 2’500’000 m2 (1 hectare = 10’000 m2) (ch. 2.2, p. 8)
      • Building area: “Current project entails approx. 250’000 m2 under roof with 200’000 m2 data warehouses and  50’000 m2 administration, logistics and service buildings, in addition to one or two 150 kV high voltage substations, each of approx. 30’000 m2 and diesel emergency power facilities of 6’500 m2” (ch. 2.3, p. 9)
      • Heat surplus: “Planning will leave open the possibility of reusing surplus heat produced at the facility, however no such plan exist at the moment” (ch. 2.3, p. 9)

Local Press

National Press

International Press

Stallman in 2012: Denmark supposedly a free country, still valid
Mar 3rd, 2017 by miki

Stumbled upon this slightly dated talk by Richard M. Stallman (aka. RMS) of GNU and FSF fame, in which my home country of Denmark is sadly referenced as only a “supposedly free country”.

Transcript

“But censorship is wrong, of course, whether it is done on the internet or not. We used to think that the internet would protect us from censorship because it was too hard to censor the internet. But thanks to the effort of various companies in the US, The UK, France and so on, it is now possible for governments to censor the internet and also surveil it completely, they just need to put enough effort in. And this is not limited to obvious tyrannies such as China and Iran. We see a lot of supposedly free countries imposing censorship on the internet.

For instance, Denmark several years ago imposed filtering on the internet blocking a secret list of sites. The list was leaked and posted on WikiLeaks. Hooray for WikiLeaks! Whereupon Denmark blocked access to that page too. So everyone else could know what internet users in Denmark were blocked from seeing except those people.”

Sadly since this time it has not gotten any better. Most of the points RMS makes (the whole talk is worth a listen) are still valid and a grave concern from my perspective. The Danish internet (really DNS) blocking system has been broadened and the slippage that was feared has become a reality. Even though this issue has gotten some attention in the IT and rights communities the general public just doesn’t care.

The actual block is technically done through DNS blacklists that Danish ISP are legally required to implement. The list of blocked sites is available from the telecom trade organization “Telekommunikationsindustrien i Danmark” (English: Telecommunication’s Industry Association in Denmark) at teleindu.dk/brancheholdninger/blokeringer-pa-nettet/ and currently has 111 sites (csv) on active block.

As it being DNS based if you are impacted, workarounds do exist. However, my guess is that they will soon be able to actively shut down services physically located in Denmark.

Full talk

(starting at point of above transcript)

 

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