TikTok left a military enterprise with no energy to develop

TikTok’s data centers already rival the military industry in its hunger for energy
(photo: Green Mountain)

The popular short video service TikTok has proven to be a threat to Norway’s national security. The new data center of the social network “took” the energy needed for a military enterprise in the country.

Norwegian-Finnish munitions, jet engine and space equipment company Nammo has accused TikTok of hindering its potential expansion due to power shortages. The new data center, of which the Chinese video app is a major customer, uses all of the region’s excess electricity.

“We are concerned that our future growth is being hindered by the storage of cat videos,” Nammo’s chief executive told the Financial Times.

Norwegian data center operator Green Mountain is building a new campus for TikTok: three 30MW units will be commissioned by November 2023, and two more of the same units are expected to be operational by 2025. Construction is underway in Hamar, 25 km from Raufos, where Nammo’s factory is located.

Local energy company Elvia has confirmed that there is no spare capacity on the network, it is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and has already been pledged to TikTok.

At the same time, demand for artillery shells is now more than 15 times higher than before, Nammo says. According to the company, Europe needs to invest 2 billion euros in new factories to meet demand in the EU and other countries.

“We are seeing exceptional demand for our products, which has never been seen in our history,” says Nammo. In the current situation, this conflicts with Norway’s plans to become a “fantastic location” for data centers.

Local authorities are promising to facilitate Nammo’s expansion plans as it is in the national interest for the company to grow. Nammo’s head points to the need to prioritize industries that will have special access to energy. “For Europe, this is a serious problem: critical industries must have access to energy,” he says.

Experts predict an escalation of the struggle for priority access to energy across Europe. While data centers have been able to draw cheap electricity in the Nordics, benefiting from a colder climate that lowers cooling costs, the battery sector and the steel industry are also flocking to the Nordics due to the transition to clean energy. And this will lead to increased competition for access to energy.

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