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Posted by Sophia Vargas on September 23, 2013
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the remote and beautiful country of Iceland. After a 5-hour flight and a brief history lesson, I was amazed to learn that in addition to its unique local attractions — geothermal springs, volcanos, aurora borealis — Iceland possesses a wealth of natural resources.
View of the run off from Ljósafoss Hydro-Power Station, located on the River Sog by Lake Úlfljótsvatn’s outflow
Straddling the North American and European tectonic plates, Iceland’s geological conditions supply its inhabitants with an abundance of natural resources ideal for renewable energy generation. Over the last century, locals have learned how to harvest these resources, constructing geothermal and hydroelectric power generation facilities and providing the country with 100% renewable, carbon-free electricity. With the current cost-prohibitive, technologically limited methods of electrical interconnection, Iceland’s public utilities have been investigating alternative ways to export their energy surplus in the form of finished products.
With nearly 40% of data center operational costs dedicated to electricity, companies such as Verne Global are exploiting Iceland’s cheap renewable energy resources as they provide an optimal environment for sustainable data centers. Retrofitted in decommissioned NATO base, Verne Global’s data center is not only powered by dual-sourced renewable energy, but it also takes advantage of Iceland’s brisk temperatures for free-air cooling. According to Jeff Monroe, the CEO of Verne Global, they “are shipping power out of Iceland in the form of bits and bytes.”
Verne customers like RMS have embraced this economical and guilt-free computing, benefiting from low electricity costs to support high intensity computing, and a disaster recovery site conveniently located between North America and Europe.
So, why isn’t everyone packing up their racks and heading north?
To date, colocation has been a predominately regional market, with customers seeking providers close to their operational headquarters. To encourage customer growth, Verne Global and any other remote data center provider will have to:
Constraints aside, the Icelandic data center market presents an exciting opportunity for the rest of the world to take advantage of green computing.
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