Power tender for Amazon data centres
Internet giant Amazon is to launch what will be a hotly-contested competition this year to supply power to its energy-hungry data centres in Ireland and the UK, in a deal certain to be worth tens of millions of euro.
Last week, the Irish Independent revealed that the US company is planning to build a data centre campus in Dublin, which could cost as much as €1bn to develop. The first stage of that campus will include a 20,739sq-metre (223,000sq-feet) facility that could cost as much as €200m to build.
That centre will bring to about 10 the number that Amazon has either in operation or under construction in the capital.
It uses them for its Amazon Web Services business, where it provides cloud capability to companies such as Netflix and Unilever.
Planners for the ADSIL (Amazon Data Services Ireland) have pointed out that Amazon is committed to running its business in the "most environmentally friendly way possible".
"ADSIL intends to run a competitive tender for purchasing the offtake from new renewable energy projects in Ireland and the UK in the latter half of 2017," the planners noted.
Amazon has a long-term commitment to achieve 100pc renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure footprint, according to its consultants.
They pointed out that in the United States, four wind and solar projects went live in 2016 and are now delivering energy onto the electricity grid, powering Amazon's data storage facilities there.
Last November, Amazon Web Services announced that it would build five solar farms in Virginia to power its cloud data centres.
Four of the five planned solar farms will each generate 20 megawatts of power, while the fifth will generate up to 100 megawatts. It already has an 80-megawatt facility in Virginia.
Amazon exceeded its goal of 40pc of its energy requirements being fuelled by renewable energy by the end of 2016, and wants 50pc of power requirements to be met by renewables by the end of this year.
Data centres consume a huge amount of electricity to power the servers inside.
Power is also required to cool the buildings, although companies such as Amazon have chosen to build data centres in Ireland because its cool, temperate climate means that those costs can be reduced or eliminated.
The ESB's group finance director, Pat Fenlon, told the Irish Independent that while there is currently excess capacity in Ireland's electricity generating network, the increasing construction of data centres could pose a supply issue.
"If all the data centres [planned here by all companies] went ahead, that would certainly be a challenge," he said.
"We've been in discussions with the Commission for Energy Regulation from a networks perspective to make sure that that can be dealt with appropriately."