The value of bitcoin may have stumbled in recent months, but in Iceland it has known only one direction so far: upward. The stunning success of cryptocurrencies around the globe has had a more unexpected repercussion on the island of 340,000 people: It could soon result in an energy shortage in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
As Iceland has become one of the world’s prime locations for energy-hungry cryptocurrency servers — something analysts describe as a 21st century gold-rush equivalent — the industry’s electricity demands have skyrocketed, too. For the first time, they now exceed Icelanders’ own private energy consumption, and energy producers fear that they won’t be able to keep up with rising demand if Iceland continues to attract new companies bidding on the success of cryptocurrencies.
Companies have flooded Iceland with requests to open new data centers to “mine” cryptocurrencies in recent months,…