Apple Inc. plans to spend 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) building data centers in Ireland and Denmark in its biggest European investment, with the facilities set to run services such as iTunes and maps for users of its devices.
The centers, located in Athenry, Ireland, and Viborg, Denmark, will be powered by renewable energy, Cupertino, California-based Apple said on Monday. The facilities are scheduled to begin operations in 2017 in the two countries known for their use of wind power.
The project lets Apple address European requests for data to be stored closer to local users and authorities, while also allowing it to benefit from a chilly climate that helps save on equipment-cooling costs. Google Inc. opened a data center in Finland in 2011 and in September unveiled plans for one in the Netherlands. Facebook Inc. started one in Sweden in 2013.
Spying threats, in the aftermath of leaks about the U.S. National Security Agency’s data-collection programs, have prompted governments including France and private companies in Europe to adopt stricter data-protection requirements.
Those tighter rules have meant asking providers to host more customer information, such as health records, locally. To tend to this demand, U.S. providers including Salesforce.com Inc. have bulked up their data-center presence in Europe.
The Europe investment marks a push by Apple in a continent where sales rose 66 percent last quarter from the preceding period, outpacing the 55 percent growth in the Americas. Sales in Europe were $17.2 billion, accounting for 23 percent of the total.
The new facilities will have the lowest environmental impact yet for an Apple data center, and the company said it will work with local partners to develop additional renewable-energy projects from wind or other sources.
Earlier this month, Apple made an $848 million commitment to obtain electricity from a solar farm that’s big enough to power its offices in California, along with 52 retail stores and a data center.
The Irish and Danish centers, each measuring 166,000 square meters (1.8 million square feet), will be among the largest in the world, Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. Apple said the projects are set to create hundreds of local jobs.
“This is an important strategic investment with significant local economic benefits,” Martin Shanahan, head of the Irish foreign investment agency IDA, said in a statement. “Ireland has for several years successfully attracted data center investments from major corporates.”