Company would use generating stations to help power a new 180MW data centre campus in the city
Energia, which is owned by US-based I Squared Capital, is considering the construction of a major data centre complex beside its neighbouring Dublin power stations that would draw electricity from the plants.
Energia’s Huntstown Power Station company has been liaising with An Bord Pleanála regarding the construction of a significant substation at Huntstown that would form part of the data centre plan. An Bord Pleanála has just determined that the substation should be considered a strategic infrastructure development.
The Energia firm is also eyeing the construction of three to four data centre buildings extending over 100,000 sq m (1.07 million sq ft).
“As a leading innovator in sustainable energy infrastructure and supply, we are also researching the potential feasibility for the possible location of a sustainably managed, carbon neutral data centre and we have discussed this on an entirely exploratory basis with An Bord Pleanála,” a spokesman for the company said.
The planning watchdog noted that Energia is trying to find an economically viable solution to ensure the future operation of the facilities.
Energia noted that a data centre connection policy paper developed by semi-State firm EirGrid, which manages the country’s transmission network, has suggested that future data centre developments should be required to provide their own power generation.
The company said that the planned new substation at Huntstown would feature 343MW of generation inflow from Huntstown 1 and 404MW from Huntstown 2. It added that the proposed data centre development would require 180MW of power.
In early 2018, Energia – then known as Viridian - threatened to close its Huntstown power stations by May that year after one of the power plants didn’t secure a capacity contract from EirGrid under the Integrated Single Electricity Market (Isem). The Isem is the wholesale electricity market arrangement for Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The energy regulator told the power company that it would not permit it to close the facilities early, as doing so would damage the security of energy supply. Operators need to give three years’ notice of closures.
Energia later successfully appealed the EirGrid decision not to award a capacity contract to one of the Huntstown stations. When power plants are awarded capacity contracts, they receive payments for being available to generate electricity.
An Energia spokesman stressed yesterday that contrary to the An Bord Pleanála inspector's report in relation to the substation plans, the Huntstown facilities are not subject to closure notices.
"Under the EirGrid Grid Code, closure notices from operators are irrevocable," he pointed out. “No closure notices have been submitted to EirGrid on behalf of either Huntstown unit.”
I Squared Capital bought Energia in 2016 for €1bn. It tried to sell the business in 2018. Last summer, it emerged that I Squared intended to sell Energia by the end of 2020.