Iceland’s Jökulsárlón, a glacial lake. Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/krmuir/142110701/
Bitcoin industry blog CoinDesk published a profile of Australian bitcoin-mining company DigitalBTC this week, revealing the company’s fiendishly cost-effective vision for the future of industrial-scale hashing centers. At the core of their plan: Low-cost renewable power, and a naturally cold climate.
The company is building its new hashing center at the Verne Global data center in Iceland. Powered entirely by geothermal and hydroelectric sources, the data center can take advantage of Iceland’s famously inexpensive electricity costs (roughly $0.10 per kWh). Given that Australian electricity can be hugely expensive (around $0.31 kW/h in 2012), those savings alone could be enough to justify relocating a mining operation.
DigitalBTC told CoinDesk that it expects to see an energy savings of around 40% following the center’s launch, with additional savings coming from cooling. Although relatively mild by comparison to deceptively named neighboring island Greenland, Iceland’s temperature is still exceptionally cool, ranging from an average of 55 °F in the summer to a bone-chilling 14 °F in winter.
For an industry that is increasingly reliant on effective cooling technology to keep warehouses of ASIC hardware operating efficiently, Iceland seems like a veritable mining Shangri-La.
Ironically, due to the country’s capital control laws and the policies of the Icelandic Central Bank, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are unambiguously illegal for transactions within Iceland. Iceland’s government, the Althing, has been harshly opposed to cryptocurrency adoption, most notably during the failed launch of the Auroracoin alt-coin earlier this year. With an increasing number of industrial-scale mining operations looking for low-cost options, and Iceland increasingly looking for outside investments, that attitude may be about to thaw.