It's been a while since we've heard anything about Iceland's plans to become the world's premier datacenter site, but it looks like things are finally moving forward. Verne Globular, a cloud-computing provider, has contracted with Colt Data Center Services to deliver two of Colt's modular data centers to the facility they are building on former NATO airbase in Keflavick.
The 500 square meter modular datacenter systems (modular, not containerized) will be placed inside an existing building shell on the airbase site. Power will be provided from hydro-electric and geothermal sources, making the facility one of the few running on completely renewable energy. The modular units will also be designed to use only free air cooling, taking advantage of the Icelandic climate and removing the power requirements for chiller technologies from the energy utilization requirements.
With the use of modular components the planned build time for the facility is only four months, and the UK-based Verne states that the facility will be apply to handle 100 MW of computing load. Plans are in place to expand the facility, presumably by using additional modular components, if the demand warrants.
The nature of the power supply and cooling makes this datacenter facility the first in the world to be able to claim a zero-carbon footprint, No purchased offsets or any other carbon-accounting trickery is involved; by using strictly renewable energy resources that of themselves have a zero-carbon footprint, the facility is able to make that claim. No details are currently available on backup power plans and it is entirely possible that one good earthquake or volcanic eruption would have the facility running on diesel backup generators. Of course, if the power interruption event is a volcano, the amount of carbon emitted by the backup diesel power generation would be insignificant in comparison.
Given the nature of cloud services, it is possible that Verne customers may not have any idea that their applications and data reside in a datacenter in Iceland, but it seems likely that Verne will play the energy efficiency and zero-carbon aspects for all of the marketing value they can get. Whether major datacenter users such as IBM, who had previously backed out of opening a facility in Iceland due to political revenue issues, will take this as a sign that they should reconsider their plans, isn't something we know. But I'm sure that IBM, and other major players, are happy to let be the stalking horse for the future of the datacenter business in Iceland.