Monday 21 October 2019

Data centre spend to hit €10bn amid site surge

Plans will need 31pc of electricity

Powering ahead: Google’s Data Centre at Grange Castle, south Co Dublin
Powering ahead: Google’s Data Centre at Grange Castle, south Co Dublin
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Investment in data centres in Ireland is likely to top €10bn by 2022, according to industry lobby group Host in Ireland.

It said that there are now 53 active data centres in Ireland and 29 in development. Last year, 16 new data halls came on line. The average annual investment in such facilities is €1.3bn, according to the group's latest report.

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The expansion of the power-hungry infrastructure has placed significant strain on the electricity transmission system in and around the capital.

The report noted that the operational data centres require 600MW of electricity capacity.

Eirgrid, the semi-State body that manages Ireland's electricity transmission network, has said that electricity demand forecasts for Ireland are "heavily influenced" by the expected growth of large energy users, primarily data centres.

"These need a lot of power and can require the same amount of energy as a large town," it pointed out.

"Our analysis shows that demand from data centres could account for 31pc of all demand by 2027," Eirgrid noted in its latest generation capacity statement.

It added that energy demand from data centres will probably quadruple between 2016 and 2020, with most of the extra demand materialising in and around Dublin.

Eirgrid said in its 2018 annual report that the transmission network around Dublin will require "significant reinforcements" over the next five years.

The semi-State has also established a working group along with agencies including the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities to engage with data centre operators on the challenges of ensuring long-term supply and growth in the Dublin area.

Tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have significant data centre footprints in Ireland, as do other data centre operators.

Last year, Facebook opened a €300m data centre in Clonee, Co Meath.

Amazon, which has a number of data centres around Dublin, is also planning a €1bn data centre campus in the capital.

That plan was objected to by Allan Daly, the Co Galway engineer who had also objected to Apple's plan for what would have been its first Irish data centre.

Apple has since decided not to proceed with the data centre due to the prolonged planning process.

Host Ireland CEO Garry Connolly said: "Our ability to provide the data infrastructure required by some of the largest companies in the world has meant that computer service-related exports now top €69.3bn, making it the largest export sector in the economy - beating pharmaceuticals and the agrifood sector."

Irish Independent

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