Tuesday 22 August 2017

IDA launches hunt for large data centre sites

Jacobs Engineering appointed to identify viable new locations

Climate is a major selling point for the IDA thanks to free air cooling which cuts data centre costs
Climate is a major selling point for the IDA thanks to free air cooling which cuts data centre costs

Gordon Deegan

The IDA is on the hunt for sites to accommodate more large Apple and Amazon-style data centres across the country.

The State agency has appointed Jacobs Engineering to identify further strategic sites for the construction of large-scale data centres.

In winning the contract, Jacobs Engineering Ireland beat off bids from nine other firms.

The IDA had estimated at the outset that the value of the contract would be around €200,000 but the winning bid by Jacobs came in at €53,776.

The task for the company will be to now identify one site for one large data centre in the South East, the South West, the Midwest, the Midlands, the West and the North West.

Already, the €850m 120,000 sq m data plan by Apple and the €1bn plan by Amazon for data centres in Galway and Dublin have been hit by planning and legal delays.

Dublin is already home to one of the largest clusters of data centres in Europe, with large-scale operations, including the likes of Google and Microsoft.

The country's free air cooling climate which dramatically reduces the cost of hosting data, connectivity and business environment are being put forward by the IDA to foreign direct investors as reasons why Ireland has become such a magnet for data centres.

The path to identifying the IDA sites - which could result in an eventual windfall for the landowners concerned and a separate rates and development levy windfall for the relevant local authorities - is to be carried out in three phases.

This is made up of a national review; refinement of options and detailed comparative analysis and recommendation

The selection criteria is to include proximity to high voltage electricity network and HV substations; proximity to dark fibre networks and proximity to national motorway network, and associated key access routes.

As part of the process of choosing the best sites, the consultants are to draw up a long list of potentially viable locations made up of three land banks in each of the seven regions.

The search will involve the evaluation of the following criteria - land use zoning/zoning potential; compatible adjacent land uses; land ownership profile; available road access to property; availability of other key utilities; access to renewable energy resources and extent of any environmental constraints.

Underling the contribution the data centres can make to local economies, Fingal Co Council stands to receive €1.4m in development levies from Amazon from the first phase of its data centre at Mulhuddart in north Co Dublin if its gets the go-ahead from An Bord Pleanála.

The US online retail giant plans to initially build a 223,000 sq ft data centre in Mulhuddart and might build seven more.

Irish Independent

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