For Iceland, the future looks green and data filled

With 100% green renewable power and free cooling, Iceland should be a datacenter mecca, so what’s the problem?

Located midway between the US and Europe, Iceland is uniquely situated for global datacenters.  With three high performance major fiber optic connections to North America and Europe, low cost power, and free cooling it’s a natural location for power intensive industries. While datacenters don’t have the power demands that Iceland’s growing aluminum processing industry has (they currently process 2% of the total global aluminum produced), datacenters are a natural fit for the efficiencies of the climate and stable, low-cost, power availability.

A tour of Verne Global’s first datacenter in Iceland shows the value of inexpensive power and free air cooling. One wall of the datacenter is floor to ceiling louvered panels, which can be blocked and have filters put in place, but for the most part just allows the natural cool air to be used to maintain the temperature in the modular datacenter. Verne Global combine’s the free air cooling with the stable power environment to offer their customers fixed power prices on contracts through 2030, and option rarely available in the datacenter world.



With a highly secure datacenter environment (currently in the process of working towards ISO 27001 certification) built using datacenter modules from Colt, Verne Global can provide 100 MW of power in their initial datacenter implementation. They have 45 acres to build out on the former NATO airbase Keflavik, just west of Reykjavik. And they are ready to grow to meet the demands of their customers.



So why haven’t other datacenters been built to take advantage of the advantages of Icelandic power and climate? At one point IBM and other major corporations were planning on developing Iceland as a datacenter hub, but some decisions on taxes and  differences on the way they would be applied when compared to other members of the European Economic Area (EEA) made Iceland a less attractive alternative.

A new government came into power this year in Iceland and I spoke to Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Industry and Commerce about this specific issue. She assured me that the entire government, both the factions currently in power and the opposition, was aware that it was necessary to assure potential datacenter customers that they would be treated the same, from a tax perspective, as other nations in the EEA, giving them the freedom to take advantage of the economic advantages.

With Verne Global leading the way, Iceland is poised to be a location of choice for datacenter operators looking for the most cost efficient datacenter operations. Location notwithstanding, Iceland is an excellent place to put a datacenter. If you operations are global, then the additional latencies introduced by routing to Iceland (from 40 to 100 ms) are unlikely to be an issue.