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Is Iceland the Next Big Data Centre Destination?

15 April, 2015

Is Iceland the Next Big Data Centre Destination?

With freezing temperatures, plenty of geothermal power and a convenient location just a three hour plane ride from London, Iceland is pegged as the next big data centre destination. Known as the ‘land of ice and fire’ the region is currently selling itself as a hugely effective way for US tech giants to save money on data centre operational costs, as well as slash

 their carbon footprints through harnessing its abundance of geothermal energy resources.

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Earlier this year, Icelandic Minister of Industries and Innovation Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir made it public knowledge that the country would be doing everything it could to entice Silicon Valley mega-corporations such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google to its shores.

Over the past few years several big name companies have already opened a handful of Scandinavian data centres as part of their commitment to provide lightning-fast service to European customers. Now, the companies are starting to realise the energy efficient, and eco-friendly benefits of building in northerly latitudes with freezing temperatures. The chilly climate naturally cools racks which in turn, eliminates the need for energy guzzling air conditioning systems

Árnadóttir explains, “We can feel that there’s growing interest. There are an increasing number of data centre companies coming here. You see the investment with Verne Global.”

The future is looking bright, with Árnadóttir revealing that Landsvirkjun, the nation’s largest power company is currently negotiating with up to 12 enterprises that have expressed interest in Icelandic data centre builds. 

As well as an icy climate, Iceland’s geographic position on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge means it offers a wealth of renewable energy. When lave is pushed up to the Earth’s surface due to drifting North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Iceland's quintet of geothermal power plants harnesses this energy and uses it to power electricity-generating turbines. This makes the nation a hugely appealing for companies seeking our both cost-effective and eco-friendly data centre solutions.

As global technology companies are increasingly scrutinised for their colossal carbon footprints industry experts are asserting that Iceland could be the solution. The region has been recognised as a viable option for quite some time, with Einar Hansen Tómasson, project manager of foreign direct investment at Promote Iceland asserting that he is certain that large internet giants will start to make the leap in the next few years.  For Iceland it means a serious economic boost while for Europe as a whole, it cements the continent’s status as the geographic data centre hub of the future. 

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