Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40, 2022 36 Introduction Alaska is known for its natural resources, expansive land, and remoteness and for the fact that it is cold. Partly as a result of these features, the economy of Alaska is reliant on three major industries: oil production, tourism, and fishing. All these industries are located predominantly outside the major city centers. In contrast, Alaskan infrastructure, including renewable energy systems, telecommunications projects, and physical infrastructure, such as roads, primarily serves the major metropolitan areas. In terms of employment opportunities, the job market is heavily focused on blue-collar workers with a considerable level of vocational training. Despite the current focus of the economy and the related workforce, many new industries are poised to contribute to the state’s future growth; for instance, data processing and specialized technical manufacturing, industries that require high levels of worker training, could find a welcoming business environment. Much of the world in the last decade went from being unable to download a single picture from the internet, to streaming a movie in 4k resolution, and to producing cars and machines that collect, send, and process millions of data points thousands of miles away. Massive data processing computers, better known as data centers, are scattered around the world, allowing modern society to interconnect and process terabytes of information in a matter of milliseconds. Currently, the US data center market is valued at $8.4B, with projected growth to reach $13.91B by 2026 (Business Wire, 2021a). With tremendous growth forecasted and market needs quickly exceeding demand at peak times, new data centers are becoming increasingly important to facilitate both businesses and government growth. Data centers have five needs once built. First is a reliable source of cheap electricity, with infrastructure to distribute large amounts of energy. Electricity is the most expensive cost of running a data center, with a single server rack costing upwards of $30,000 per year to ALASKA’S NEW FRONTIER: ENERGY-INTENSIVE COMPUTING Nathaniel Robert Alter Alaska has incredible potential to become a leading region of the world for energy-intensive computing. The state can take advantage, as other arctic locales have done, of the renewable energy potential and attractively cool temperatures for data centers and related industries. Through policies and partnerships, Alaska can use its natural resources to create a new frontier in the energy-intensive computing market.