The abundant geothermal energy that Iceland is using to power its new breed of data centers comes at a cost; the sub-surface activity that generates all that hot water also makes the area prone to volcanic eruptions. Grímsvötn erupted last month, bringing darkness to Rekjavik’s normally bright summer skies and causing some limited disruption to European air traffic. However, according to those behind the island’s Thor Data Center, it kept on operating as normal. They’ve even provided pictures of their air filters to demonstrate how little effect the volcano had on air near their facility.
Iceland’s Thor data center is to be home to a new supercomputer, serving the needs of researchers hundreds of miles away across the Atlantic in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Iceland’s data centers benefit from the country’s cool climate and abundant geothermal power, as well as high speed connectivity to both Europe and North America. Despite Iceland’s apparent benefits, customers have not been as quick to fill its data centers as many presumed they would. A high profile project such as this should help to put the island firmly on the map.