The Irish arm of US-based data centre firm Nautilus Data Technologies has applied for €40m in funding from the European Investment Bank to construct a flagship floating facility in Limerick. It will be the first of its kind in Europe.
The company, which has earmarked a total of €55m for the project, intends to demonstrate its technological effectiveness and an alternative to existing land-based data centres. Nautilus secured planning permission last year to build the floating data centre in Limerick.
It's working on the project in conjunction with Shannon Foynes Port Company as part of a wider regeneration of Limerick's docks. Water will be funnelled from the Shannon to the floating data centre to cool the facility, before being returned to the river at a slightly warmed temperature.
Nautilus says that its innovative system is 80pc more energy efficient than those typically used in medium or large data centres, and that the floating centre would have 30pc lower operating costs.
The project had been objected to by a group of dock users, which had said that the floating barge on which the data centre will be sited would be contrary to the statutory planning policy for the docks.
However, the group later withdrew its objection.
Construction of a large floating data centre that's now based in the port of Stockton, about 130km east of San Francisco, was recently completed for Nautilus. The project involved the repurposing of a large barge, using 113 tonnes of structural steel. The barge now weighs 635 tonnes and comprises 14 modules. The 6MW data centre will use about 4,500 gallons (17,000 litres) per minute and can process as much as 42,000 litres a minute.
Nautilus claims that the cooling process enables the data centre to have five times more power density per rack and that it has a smaller footprint than a typical land-based data centre of the same power capacity.
Nautilus formally applied to the European Investment Bank last week for funding.
"The demonstration project consists in the design, construction and operation of a water-cooled data centre located in Ireland," noted the bank.
"The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the commercial viability and operability of innovative water-cooling technology developed by Nautilus Data Technologies and for first commercial rollout of the technology in Europe," it added. "If successful, the technology can be expanded to be used for both floating and land-based data centres."