TikTok Data Centre Halts Ammunition Support

Cody Good
Courtesy of Pinterest

These unprecedented years keep unprecedent-ing: we can now officially dab the bingo square for TikTok blocking an ammunition factory expansion.

What happened: Nammo, one of the largest ammunition manufacturers in Europe, has been stonewalled in its plan to expand its factory by none other than social media giant TikTok.

This has little to do with videos of stitching, witching, or dancing, and everything to do with a TikTok data centre consuming all the surplus electricity in the area shared with Nammo’s factory in Norway.

Background: The war in Ukraine has driven up the demand for ammunition considerably, and Nammo recently agreed to supply its EU and NATO customer base in Ukraine with one million artillery rounds within the year.  
For TikTok, data centers in a Nordic country that offers abundant and cheap renewable energy in a cool climate to help drive down cooling costs makes perfect sense. The company then stores its data locally which helps soothe Western lawmakers’ data security concerns.

Cat videos got in the way of global security efforts

Unfortunately for NATO and Ukraine, TikTok finalized plans for five data centres before Nammo could.

  • TikTok’s data centers are large, requiring 150 megawatts of supply and account for 0.5 percent of Norway’s total electricity consumption. Nammo’s facility, by comparison, needed only 30 to 40 megawatts.

Being first matters here because the local energy company, Elvia, distributes its electricity on a first-come-first-serve basis. The existing surplus has been spoken for and thus none is left to go around.

Big picture: At face value, this story is a live-action meme of a social media company buying up renewable energy at the expense of the military-industrial complex. But there are serious implications under the surface: the timing and size of TikTok’s energy grab has drawn suspicion as it has interrupted Western efforts to aim Ukraine in its war against Russia, a close economic partner of China’s.

The bigger picture: Whether foreign investment into a western country was an intentional effort of interference or not, it raises more questions surrounding sustainable energy and ensuring energy security going forward.