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Apple drops $1.9B on renewable data hubs in Europe

Apple plans to spend 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) on two European data centers run entirely on renewable energy, the U.S. technology giant said on Monday.

The sites will be located in Ireland and Denmark and will power Apple's iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for customers in Europe.

"This significant new investment represents Apple's biggest project in Europe to date," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement, adding that the deal would create "hundreds of local jobs."

The Apple logo is illuminated in red at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The investment will be poured equally into Denmark and Ireland, and Apple said the centers – each 166,000 square-metres in size - are expected to begin operations in 2017.

Ireland's Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in a statement that Apple's investment was significant, as the government looks to spread the economic recovery to "every part of the country." The Danish government echoed the sentiment and said in a statement that the Cupertino, CA-based company's money will give a "significant boost" to its economy.

Apple has promised to carry out locally beneficial schemes, including an outdoor education space for schools in Ireland. The data center in Denmark will capture heat from the equipment inside the facility and distribute it to the local heating system to warm homes.

The move underlines Apple's commitment to renewable energy after it said it was investing $850 million in a solar farm that will power its California operation earlier this month.

Apple's plans in Europe follow similar moves by other U.S. companies, including Google and Amazon, to open more data centers in Europe. It comes after concerns over U.S. data protection following revelations by Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency's surveillance operations.

European Union officials said the number of U.S. companies looking to open data centers in the region showed it was becoming a safe haven for data, as lawmakers continue to push for the reform of data protection rules.

"This is proof to us that, in anticipation of Europe becoming a trust center for data, big global corporations, in particular from the United states, are investing in Europe," Paul Nemitz, a director in the European Commission's Justice Unit, said at a data-protection forum in December.