Apple’s cloud is getting bigger. The company announced today that it will spend more than $1.9 billion (€1.7 billion) on two new data centers in Europe. They’ll be built in Galway, Ireland and Denmark’s Jutland to power Apple’s services for its European customers, including Siri, iMessage, Maps and the iTunes Store.
That expenditure makes it Apple’s largest project in Europe to date. Each facility will measure 166,000 square meters (almost 1.8 million square feet), and they’re expected to come online in 2017.
Like the company’s other data centers, the new European facilities will be run on renewable energy sources. Apple will also use them to give back to the community – the center in Denmark will be set up to capture excess heat and use that to warm nearby homes, while the Irish data center will be used to provide an outdoor education space for local schools and a public walking trail.
It’s an important move for the company, especially as European lawmakers continue to discuss issues of data sovereignty following disclosures about U.S. surveillance practices. This way, Apple will be ready in the event regulators impose certain data storage requirements.
The move also makes sense for Apple from a financial standpoint, since the company has so much cash overseas. Apple can’t bring that back into the U.S. without paying a hefty tax bill, so the company has even more incentive to spend it on projects like this one.