Estonia is widely known for its technical excellence, yet some parts of it were missing for a long time. Despite being the most digitally advanced society in the world, the country lacked a proper purpose-built large-scale data centre in 2020. To be more precise, Eastern and Central Europe as a whole lacked sustainable and reliable data centres. To the founders of Greenergy Data Centers (GDC), this fact was unacceptable.
With the support of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, GDC acquired MCF Group Estonia, which had come across the same problem and was already building a world-class data centre in Tallinn. By joining forces, they merged the best knowledge in technology, management skills, highly qualified workforce, and resources to raise the largest and most power-efficient data centre in the Baltic region.
Now, GDC facility in Tallinn is the most energy-efficient and secure data centre in the Baltics. Some impressive facts:
- 14,500 m2 facility, campus power 31.5 MW
- Runs on renewable energy
- Target power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.2
- Level 3 to 4 infrastructure redundancy
- Carrier and operator neutral
- Flexibly sized data rooms across two floors
- Manned physical security supported by AI
- Compliance with the highest international standards
From a project to a vision
GDC will not stop there. The company’s long-term vision is to enable digital growth by building a network of sustainable data centres in Central and Eastern Europe.
There were only a few of those who believed in the realisation of such a large-scale project in a small country like Estonia. The necessary investments were enormous, and getting funding from banks was impossible. There were no sectoral specialists, and the market had yet to be created. But everyone who doubted it was wrong!
That was the beginning of the first modern large-scale data centre to be built on the outskirts of Tallinn. Within only a year, the 14,000 square metre facility (equal to the size of two football pitches) is filling up quickly. But not to worry – GDC’s strength is in modularity. It means that if the space gets crowded, the capacity of a server room can be easily increased to match its clients’ development and growth.
Kert Evert, the founder and chief development officer of the data centre, had a previous career in telecommunications and witnessed the building of the first data centre in Estonia in the early 2000s. Since then, the idea matured, life connected Evert with a bunch of interested investors, and after finding the perfect location and getting building permits, it was time to break ground. “Much of the current team at the GDC today were hands-on from the beginning. Everyone is intimately familiar with their field and, at times, literally every nut and bolt in the large complex,” says Evert.
“We were constantly looking for the best possible solutions and the highest level of reliability. This, of course, led to challenges.” One example is a novel oxygen reduction fire prevention system for server rooms, which eliminates the possibility of fires starting (while still being safe for humans). “We are the first in Estonia to implement this system and facing the issue of how to ventilate a room where a low oxygen level must be maintained, and even small air leaks are not permitted,” says Evert, illustrating the challenges that must be solved. Now, the data centre ranks among the best in the world according to certification specialists. This is a tremendous compliment on the work and ingenuity exhibited by the founders of the complex.
Tõnu Grünberg, CEO of GDC, also has a background in telecommunications and knows the value of well-secured data first-hand. He also doesn’t mind pointing it out: “As our clients, we have data-intensive companies as well as those with smaller data volumes, but all with strict compliance requirements and security rules. Notably, we are the sole data centre in the Baltics and Finland to hold the esteemed European EN 50600 certificate. Many organisations today embrace sustainability and our commitment to 100% renewable energy. The target of 25% higher efficiency than the industry average makes us an attractive choice for housing IT equipment,“ says Grünberg.
GDC is also a frontrunner in the green mindset, which becomes more important by the day for clients choosing their partners. “There is a growing interest among entrepreneurs to contribute to sustainability and achieve ambitious climate goals. Energy efficiency is also a significant consideration, especially with recent electricity price fluctuations, as it directly impacts the economic aspects of running a business.“
Grünberg believes that as Estonia has gained international recognition as a digital country, there was yet a big gap to be filled – until the opening of GDC in 2022, there was a noticeable absence of large-scale, reliable and sustainable data centres in the area. “In our modern lives, where the Internet and data play vital roles in our daily activities, data centres have become the backbone of our existence. They can be likened to critical infrastructure, much like highways and power systems, at a national level,“ says Grünberg. “Modern data centres enhance the country’s attractiveness from the viewpoint of various businesses and investments and provides a strong foundation for local digital success stories.“