Boom time for data centres in Italy: 83 hubs, €15 bn invested

The data centre sector in Italy is still small but it is set to grow exponentially, as 83 new hubs will open by 2025 with an investment of up to €15 billion. This information has emerged from the first Data Centre Observatory, new research conducted by the Milan Polytechnic’s School of Management.

Last year saw a spike in activity in the sector, with 23 different companies announcing plans to open new data centres, including eight groups that had not operated in Italy before. The new hubs have led to a 23% increase in rated energy output to 430MW.

Alessandro Piva, Director, Osservatorio Data Center, Milan Polytechnic’s School of Management

“The Italian data centre economy has an unprecedented opportunity, with a potential €15 billion in investments by the end of 2025,” said Alessandro Piva, director, Osservatorio Data Center. “These critical infrastructures provide the foundations for the development of a national digital market and make Italy an important player in the European context at a crucial time for data management and Cloud sovereignty.”

The colocation sector – a type of data centre where equipment, space and bandwidth are available for rental to retail customers, has grown to €654 million, a 10% increase on 2022, and the expectation is that it will more than double by 2025.

There are five main data centre hubs in Europe: London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin. However, they have been slowing down recently, says Piva, and this gives new entrants like Italy a chance to enter the fray.

Milan, Italy’s economic and business capital, is the most advanced in the sector, but it 184MW capacity is still a fraction of Frankfurt’s 791MW.

Italy’s chance to grow the sector is also hampered by red tape and the lack of clear regulations at national level. Data centres are classified as generic industrial assets, subject to lengthy assessments before being granted the necessary permits.

The study by Milan Polytechnic emphasises that the Italian authorities should encourage the sector’s growth by classifying data centres as ‘special’ assets, subject to different procedures and to be fast-tracked in the application process.

Another issue is that more power is needed for large data centres (over 10MW), so more investments are needed to upgrade the national power grid as well as more cooperation between public and private entities.

“Italy has begun to narrow the infrastructure gap on data centres and Milan and Rome have consolidated their position as first and second hub,” said Marina Natalucci, director, Osservatorio Data Center. “In the next two years we could see exponential growth, but only if Italy will create the conditions to attract the big players, which will require close coordination between institutions and companies.”