In July, two municipalities within the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA) announced a temporary pause in issuing new permits for new data center projects in their regions. Both municipalities recognize the importance of data centers of our society and economy. Since the announcement, there has been an ongoing positive and constructive dialogue between trade association Dutch Data Center Association (DDA) and governmental parties on both a regional and national level.
An action plan is expected to be finalized before the end of this year. The constructive setting of this dialogue has shown its worth as governments and industry have agreed upon a durable collaboration to establish a strategy for sustainable growth of data centers in Amsterdam and beyond.
Mr. Stan Kaatee, Director of Economic Affairs, confirms the above in a letter of intent which was issued mid-September. The broad scope of the letter is as follows:
- Amsterdam recognizes the importance of data centers: data centers are indispensable for both residents, companies and institutions. Just like international airports, data centers are fundamental for the international role of the Netherlands as Digital Gateway to Europe.
- The temporary halt on the building of data centers by the two municipalities is by no means an “attack” on the data center industry. On the contrary, in consultation with the sector, the municipalities want to work on a set of instruments to enable sustainable growth of the data center industry. This enables the municipalities to manage its spatial planning, as well as the supply and distribution of power in the city.
- The decision has been made to enable sustainable development and growth of data centers in the AMA. The action plan will be in accordance with both a sound spatial and economic regional framework, which are developed simultaneously.
- Data centers are actively involved in creating the needed policies. This concerns both spatial and economic interpretation, including elements such as energy, sustainability and the use of space.
- Continuous dialogue is fundamental. Kaatee emphasizes that he is confident that the collaboration will lead to the strengthening of the AMA and its business climate. To this end, it is important to continue a strong, structured dialogue.
National Data Center Table
To further shape the collaboration, the DDA recently organized the first National Data Center Table. Attendants included the DDA, several municipalities, provinces, ministries and various industry parties. The aim of the Table was to create a joint vision of the future, strategy and associated work process with regard to the sustainable growth of data centers. The Table was found to be fruitful and further working groups will be organized to form both a short- and long-term strategy.
Opportunities for other regions
Meanwhile, several other regions in the Netherlands have stepped forward, welcoming data centers to establish their facilities in their regions. For example, Rotterdam and The Hague presented a plan including suitable locations, emphasizing the potential of this new data center hub.
Stijn Grove, Managing Director of the DDA, encourages the development of multiple data center clusters in the Netherlands: “We live in a digital world in which the internet has become a basic need for our society and economy. Everything that happens online comes from data centers. These data centers have become the new foundation that we grow on, and its services are indispensable for the daily practices of individuals, companies and governments. In addition, digital components are a necessary tool in the solutions for all the major societal challenges we face. Indeed, interruption of the growth of data centers and thus digital services, has incredible and irreversible societal and financial impact.”
Grove continues: “We are happy that we are on track in finding a solution for short term growth of the existing Amsterdam clusters. Yet, in the long run we need new, additional data center clusters. Therefore, we are happy that many other regions in the Netherlands are interested to take this role. New data center clusters will also provide increased resilience. Digitization will not stop and structural investments in digital infrastructures will need to continue in various places in the Netherlands. However, it is also important to realize that the formation of a new data center cluster does not happen overnight; it takes time.