The data centers here are specially designed to utilize the constant wind on the bare peninsula. Walls are only partial on each side, allowing a draft of cold air to cool down the equipment.
“What we are doing here is like gold mining,” said Helmut Rauth, who manages operations for Genesis Mining, a major bitcoin mining company. “We are mining on a large scale and getting the gold out to the people.”
Genesis Mining, founded in Germany, moved to Iceland in 2014 when the price of bitcoin fluctuated from $350 to $1000.
Today, one bitcoin is valued at about $8,000, according to tracking site Coindesk, after peaking at almost $19,500 in December.
The currency took a hit in January when China announced it would move to wipe out its bitcoin mining industry, following concerns of excessive electricity consumption.
Rauth said bitcoin should not be singled out as environmentally taxing. Computing power always demands energy, he argues.
“How much energy is needed for credit card transactions and internet research? Cryptocurrencies have the same global impact,” he said.