- Education and Science
There are plans to put Iceland's cool climate to good use
Iceland's banks crashed leaving huge debt. Now entrepreneurs are going back to nature to try to make a recovery.
The plan is to place the world's computer servers in Iceland's cool climate. Servers need huge amounts of energy, both to keep them running and also to cool them down. Typically the amount of energy needed to cool the servers is 40 to 60% of the energy needed to run them. As the internet grew over the years, more and more servers were brought online to cope with the demand. It's rumoured that Google has a million servers, and even the banks need hundreds of thousands of them.
With Iceland's cold environment and chilly rivers, the cooling properties are on hand and free.
Outside Rejkavik work has started on a site that is hoped will be the start of a major boom in server relocation. In about a year, companies will start leasing space in the new data centre. The expectation is that demand will be huge, triggering plans for more centres like it.
As more and more servers will need to be provided, more energy means more CO2 emissions.
An engineer at the new site said that the industry's emissions thus far are in line with the airline industry, as far as its carbon footprint goes. It is predicted that the data industry will soon overtake the airline industry, in its emissions.
The natural hot water geysers of Iceland provide the island with 100% free electricity, and it's carbon free. Iceland has an abundance of free electricity. Five geothermal power plants produce the country's power.
The free energy is so plentiful that in the wintertime some street pavements in Reykjavík are heated.
Some server farms in the UK are already driven by friendly energy sources, windfarms and such.
It is reported that Google and Yahoo are thinking of moving some of their servers to the windy Columbia river, in the USA, to utilise the cheap hydro electric power generated there, so the cost of running the servers is already being investigated.
Iceland has far more power than it can use so if a company moved it's servers there, they could save enormously. If a bank with a hundred thousand servers moved those servers to Iceland it could save half a million metric tons of carbon annually. Representatives from Microsoft will visit Iceland soon to see what the server farms could mean to them.
Iceland has already laid undersea cables to connect to Europe and the USA, the fibre optic cables capable of carrying enormous amounts of data at a phenomenal speed. Data travelling from Iceland takes only 17 milliseconds to reach London, a speed which is quite acceptable to most users. In five or so years Iceland hopes that the servers for the great financial institutions will all be situated on their chilly Island.
So Iceland has the best of both worlds as far as computer servers are concerned, with very cheap power and longer life through the cooling properties of the climate.