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€1bn Echelon data-centre plan backed by global funding package

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Site visit: Echelon COO Graeme McWilliams and CEO Niall Molloy at the company’s Clondalkin project as work gets under way to develop an 84MW data centre on the 35-acre site in Dublin. Photo: Peter Houlihan

Site visit: Echelon COO Graeme McWilliams and CEO Niall Molloy at the company’s Clondalkin project as work gets under way to develop an 84MW data centre on the 35-acre site in Dublin. Photo: Peter Houlihan

Photo: Peter Houlihan

Site visit: Echelon COO Graeme McWilliams and CEO Niall Molloy at the company’s Clondalkin project as work gets under way to develop an 84MW data centre on the 35-acre site in Dublin. Photo: Peter Houlihan

Echelon Data Centres is to create 1,100 jobs with the €1bn development of two data centres. The jobs are mostly in construction.

The centres, which will each cost around €500m, will be located in Dublin and Wicklow, and will have a total capacity of more than 180MW.

Dublin-based Echelon is owned by Aldgate Developments, a property development company that self-funded the site acquisitions.

In order to finance the construction phase of the developments, Echelon CEO Niall Molloy said the group was "drawing on funding capabilities from international markets".

However, Mr Molloy refused to divulge the companies behind the funding, citing "commercial sensitivities".

As part of the development, as many as 900 temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase at the two sites. Once operational, the 35-acre Clondalkin site will support 100 permanent jobs.

Phase one of the development in Dublin is already under construction, and is expected to open in the later half of next year.

Meanwhile, the data centre in Wicklow, located on the former Irish Fertilisers Industries site, is going through the final stages of planning permission.

It will see up to 90 staff employed at the centre when it opens in early 2021.

The group is currently in talks with companies regarding the long-term ownership of the centres.

Speaking at the launch of the development, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys described the investment as "fantastic news" for Ireland.

"It's particularly encouraging to see an indigenous company making this type of commitment to a sector that we think of as being dominated by Silicon Valley giants," she said.

Mr Molloy said the provision of customisable, scalable data-centre facilities is key to the continuing growth of the digital economy, "driven by social media, ecommerce, and the Internet of Things".

"The capacity available across Echelon's first two facilities is the equivalent of 34pc of all current operational [cloud] capacity in Ireland and about 15pc of all capacity in planning and development.

"This will enable us to accommodate future growth strategies for clients," Mr Molloy added.

At the end of September last year, there were 48 data centres in Ireland, including a Facebook data centre in Meath.

In addition to the two sites in Ireland, Echelon is in the process of identifying other sites across the UK and Europe.

US private equity giant Starwood Capital has previously put money into Aldgate Developments.

In 2015 it helped the group fund the building of a 317,000 sq ft, 18-storey tower at 10 Whitechapel High Street in London.

Earlier this month, Aldgate began construction on its 20,625 sq m office development in Sandyford in Dublin, which Starwood also helped fund.

Separately, Starwood last month formed a €1bn build-to-rent (BTR) residential platform in Ireland with Urbeo Residential and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif).

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