Norway wants to regulate its data center industry in a bid to stop the country from becoming a haven for cryptominers.

The Norweigan government says it will be the first European country to impose a dedicated legal framework on data center operators, which will require them to register the owners and managers of facilities, as well as the type of digital services they offer.

Kalberg green mountain norway
Green Mountain's Kalberg data center – Green Mountain

It is hoped this will empower local authorities to make more informed decisions about whether to give new projects the go-ahead. The aim is to encourage the construction of data centers providing services that benefit Norweigan society and its economy, and to discourage cryptomining.

“The purpose is to regulate the industry in such a way that we can close the door on the projects we do not want,” Karianne Tung, Norway’s digitization minister, told local news outlet VG.

“We need to know more about which data centers we have, what they contain and what they do. Today we have no overview.”

Tung said that the government is keen to discourage data centers where cryptomining is carried out. This process is notoriously energy intensive, while cryptocurrencies that are mined, such as Bitcoin, are often used for black market transactions.

The country’s energy minister Terje Aasland told VG that the cheap power and favorable climate conditions available in Norway make it an attractive proposition for cryptominers. But he said the industry “is associated with large greenhouse gas emissions, and is an example of a type of business we do not want in Norway.”

Tung added: “This is an industry that has not been regulated at all. But it will be possible to supervise and control data centers.”

While the ministers said they did not know how many cryptomining data centers are operating in Norway, the overall data center sector in the country has been growing in recent years, with local companies such as Green Mountain building new data centers. In December it handed over a 30MW facility in Oslo to social media giant TikTok.

In February, Google announced it was spending €600 million ($646.4m) on a site with a power capacity of up to 240MW. It will be built on 200 hectares of land in the Gromstul area of Skien, around 85 miles southwest of Oslo, which it acquired in 2019. The first phase is due to go live in 2026.

Microsoft launched two Azure cloud regions in Norway back in 2019, though one has since been delisted and is a reserved access region. AWS has an Edge location in Oslo.