Iceland sees green as the bridge to the future

Iceland is open for business. Now will anyone show up?

Things have not been all that good for Iceland since the turn of the century. Economic upheaval, seismic upheaval, the shuttering of NATO cold war-era military bases and some odd choices by the government in terms of tax laws have caused lots of problems for a country whose entire population would barely make it into the top fifty largest cities in the US.

Some light was shined on long-term solutions to some of the economic problems when investors began to look to Iceland as a datacenter haven when plans where developed and executed to improve the islands connectivity to the rest of the world. Ambitious statements were made and customers the likes of IBM acknowledged that they were planning on making use of the natural green resources (geo-thermal power and free air cooling) to deploy large datacenters to the island, making use of the location that had formerly been a NATO facility.

Unfortunately, the realization that some Icelandic specific  tax laws would have significantly increased the cost of doing business in Iceland for companies like IBM, seemed to have a major effect on scaring off these major corporate investment partners.  But the Keflavik Airport Development Company ehf, AKA Kadeco, continued with its plans to try to attract a datacenter partner to their repurposed military facilities. The government also announced plans to fix the tax law issue that caused the datacenter customers to turn away.  It should be mentioned that Kadeco is wholly owned by the government of Iceland; specifically the Ministry of Finance.

What was once the NATO base facilities is now the Ásbrú Enterprise Park and they did get their showcase green datacenter, in the form of space leased to cloud provider Verne Global, owned by investors in the US, UK, and Iceland, and powered by datacenter modules from UK datacenter technology provider Colt. The datacenter is 100 percent carbon neutral. Power is derived from 100% renewable source; geo-thermal and hydroelectric, making the Verne Global Iceland datacenter the first in the world powered by multiple completely renewable energy sources. With the warmest days of summer rarely exceeding the high 70's, and the average winter temperatures being right around freezing, all cooling for the datacenter is free air.

The park also includes a green energy research center, university campus, business incubator and other government sponsored programs looking to attract additional business to Iceland. Ásbrú is a word that is an alternate name to one much more familiar to American readers and to comic book fans everywhere,  Bifröst, the mythical bridge that connected Asgard, the home of the gods, to Midgard (the Earth). Perhaps the government of Iceland is hoping that their re-invented military facility is a bridge to a bright shining future for Iceland.

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