After years of marketing itself as an ideal destination for green data centers, Iceland is about to see the completion of its first major new data center project. Verne Holdings announced Friday that the Wellcome Trust had taken an equity position in the company that will fully fund construction of the first phase of a new data center in a former NATO Command Centre in Keflavik, Iceland.
The Wellcome Trust, a medical research charitable foundation based in London with $21 billion of assets, will become the largest shareholder in Verne Holdings, joining existing investors General Catalyst and Novator.
“Large scale customers face a critical need to reduce substantially the power costs and carbon footprints of data centers,” said Dominic Ward from the Wellcome Trust’s Investments Division. “Verne Global is breaking new ground in using Iceland’s natural green resources to mitigate both increasing emissions and rising energy costs.”
Geothermal Power, Free Cooling
Verne Global’s 44 acre data center campus is currently under construction. The facility will be powered entirely by renewable geothermal and hydroelectic energy, and will be able to use fresh air cooling for virtually the entire year, Verne says.
“What makes us unique is that we are able to offer our customers a cost effective, yet truly green solution to their data center needs by providing the benefits of Iceland’s 100 percent free cooling, renewable energy resources and predictable forecasting of energy pricing,” said Jeff Monroe, CEO of Verne Global. “Together, Verne Global and the Wellcome Trust are creating a powerful solution that enables data center users the opportunity to go green without paying a price premium.”
Pitching Iceland’s Advantages
In early 2007 the government of Iceland began been touting the country as an affordable destination for data center development, citing its abundant supply of geothermal power. At the time, we noted that companies considering Iceland “not forget the source of all that geothermal energy: Iceland sits atop an active volcanic rift.”
In 2008 Iceland was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale and became one of the leading casualties of the global financial crisis.
In Feb. 2009 Verne Holdings said construction would be delayed by about 12 months, pushing the launch back to at least mid-2010. This week’s funding announcement puts Verne in position to meet that adjusted timetable.
Targeting LEED Gold
The data center, known as KEF001, is being built in four phases. Customers will have the option of data center pods sized at either 1.2 megawatts or 2.4 megawatts of electric power, and the facility’s location provides direct access to all three of the country’s submarine communications cables. Verne Global is targeting the facility for a Gold-level certification under the LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard for energy-efficient data centers.
The Wellcome Trust is an independent charitable trust, established under the will of Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936. The Trust is the second largest biomedical research funding foundation in the world, with a mission to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health. Registered in England and Wales, it is the largest foundation in the UK by assets, managing a diversified investment portfolio of $21 billion as of Sept. 30.