100% green subsea cable set to link Norway and Canada

As subsea cable-laying hits a frenzied pitch, a renewables-fueled link from Norway to Canada pitches the naturally cool Nordic data centers instead.

Pádraig Belton, Contributor, Light Reading

October 12, 2021

4 Min Read
100% green subsea cable set to link Norway and Canada

You thought everyone was already in the subsea cable game. But if so, you counted out the Vikings. (Never count out the Vikings.)

The Leif Erikson Cable System will run for 4,200 kilometers between southern Norway and eastern Canada. One end will sit in Goose Bay, in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Figure 1:

It's a joint project between Bulk Fiber Networks, based in Oslo, and WFN Strategies, based in Sterling, Virginia.

The project is now in the feasibility stage, which will examine hazards, risks, plan the survey and construction stages and do budget and economic modeling. This stage also will look into sustainability requirements for the cable's supply chain.

Vikings go for green

The two partners are especially looking to promote their subsea cable as a highway to a Nordic home of data centers fueled by renewable power. The system would be the first trans-Atlantic fiber system entirely powered by renewable energy on both ends.

It's all in keeping with the government in Oslo's 2018 national data center strategy, "Powered by Nature: Norway as a Data Center Nation," which it updated in August 2021.

With a cold climate (so less money and carbon emissions going to keeping servers cool), government support and competitive electricity costs, Norway's data center scene is growing quickly and attracting big private sector investment.

The country's grid is chiefly powered by hydropower, though the country continues to be a major exporter of oil. And growing the data center market is part of Norway's government's aim to double the country's GDP growth by 2030 using AI and big data.

Sweden and Norway have both adopted legislative changes to offer investors with tax advantages to pump money into their data center markets.

Chicago-based private equity firm IPI Partners took over Norway's DigiPlex in July, one of the region's biggest data center operators with facilities in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Also in July, Israel's Azrieli Group bought 100% of Norway's data center company Green Mountain for $850 million, from its previous majority owner Smedvig and other shareholders.

Norway's data center companies also came together this June to form an industry body, Norsk Datasenterindustri, including both those companies and the power companies Ringerikskraft and Statkraft.

Between the two partners, WFN Strategies will be taking on the project planning, design and high-level plan.

Bulk Infrastructure meanwhile is a decent-sized fiber player, and currently owns and operates over 10,000 kilometers of international and intra-Nordic subsea and land fiber networks. Its inventory now includes four live subsea fiber systems and one it's currently building.

And even at its early stages, the Leif Erikson system and its renewables claims seem to be impressing the right people. The system's just been awarded a special recognition in the 2021 Global Carrier Awards.

In a thirsty data center world

Altogether there are 1.2 million kilometers of undersea cables installed right now, enough to circle the earth 30 times.

While it's a lot, international data traffic criss-crossing the Atlantic will expand twenty-fold from 2021 to 2035, predicts NEC, making it among the highest-growth routes for data traffic.

Want to know more about optical? Check out our dedicated optical channel here on
Light Reading.

And more than 90% of international communications at the moment go through optical cables.

They could've been a few days earlier with the announcement, which just missed Leif Erikson day - October 9.

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Pádraig Belton, contributing editor special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Pádraig Belton

Contributor, Light Reading

Contributor, Light Reading

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