Google is opening its first cloud data center in Germany in Hanau this afternoon. With the facility on a site that was once used by the Hanau nuclear industry, the Internet giant is significantly expanding its presence in Germany.

The project in Hanau is part of a one-billion-euro investment program by the Google Alphabet Group, which, in addition to the data center in Hanau, also includes a new cloud infrastructure in the Berlin-Brandenburg area. A contract with the energy supplier Engie ensures that the systems are operated in a climate-neutral manner in many areas.

The facility does not process and store data from private consumers, but rather provides storage and cloud services for commercial customers of Google Cloud. Reference customers include Commerzbank, the automotive supplier Fehrer and the Lufthansa Group. The company said the system should help meet the growing demand for cloud services in Germany.

Climate and environment in view

The Rhine-Main area is a nationwide focus for large data centers. The main reason is the DE-Cix internet exchange in Frankfurt am Main, one of the largest in the world. It is only around 20 kilometers away from the new Google data center. Many national and international data streams meet here, making Frankfurt a central hub for data traffic in Europe. The connection to the neighboring Internet node ensures that, in addition to high bandwidths, extremely short runtimes for the data are also achieved. Experts speak of low latency here.

For Google, it wasn’t just important that the data center’s connection to the Internet was excellent. The group has officially announced the goal of sustainably minimizing the impact on the climate and the environment with its cloud services. On the one hand, Google requires electricity that comes from renewable sources if possible in order to minimize its carbon footprint. According to the company, 80 percent of the energy consumed on an annual average comes from CO2-free sources.

The second major environmental issue when operating data centers is the issue of heat. The electricity used to operate computers, network switches and data storage is ultimately converted into heat, which is dissipated using huge fans. The cooling systems in Hanau also work with water. And this water should be obtained as responsibly as possible.

Use waste heat?

To ensure that the waste heat is not simply released into the environment, Google and the companies EnBW, Evonik Industries and Umicore are examining the possibilities of using the waste heat to supply neighboring buildings in the Wolfgang Industrial Park and thus to save energy.

Google has been working for years to free itself from its dependence on the advertising business on the Internet and to find new sources of revenue. The US company therefore decided to make major investments in Germany in 2021 in order not to leave this lucrative cloud market to the market leaders Amazon AWS and Microsoft or German providers such as Ionos from the United Internet Group. By 2030, investments in Germany are expected to total a good one billion euros.

Federal Digital Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) and Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky (SPD) are also expected at the opening.