Business Technology

Saturday 19 January 2019

Look inside Facebook's Clonee data centre: home to 50k bees, renewable energy and the machines that work your social media

  • Over 7.2 million hours have gone into the construction of the Clonee Data Centre
  • Facebook have launched a Community Action Grants programme in Meath to support local projects related to culture and technology
  • The site is the size of 4.2 Dublin Zoos, powered by 100pc renewable energy and home to 10 bee hives

Rachel Farrell

Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram are three of the most popular social media platforms used daily by the people of Ireland.

While the internet and social media have become almost second nature for most of us, it’s not often that we step back and think about how the messages we send end up on another person’s phone, sometimes on the other side of the world. 

And the answer lies on the outskirts of Dublin, inside Facebook’s new data centre near Clonee in Co Meath.

The centre became operational in December 2017, and helps brings Facebook apps and services to 2.5 billion people worldwide every day.

Niall McEntegart (left) Facebook’s Datacenter Operations Director for EMEA and APAC
Niall McEntegart (left) Facebook’s Datacenter Operations Director for EMEA and APAC
Niall McEntegart (right) Facebook’s Datacenter Operations Director for EMEA and APAC
Niall McEntegart (right) Facebook’s Datacenter Operations Director for EMEA and APAC
Niall McEntegart (left) Facebook’s Datacenter Operations Director for EMEA and APAC

The hardware inside the centre is what lets people stay connected to friends and family, discover what’s going on in the world and share their thoughts online - a pretty cool addition to a small village in Ireland.

The centre was the largest construction project in Ireland at one point, with construction beginning in April 2016. Up to 1,550 worked on the site construction per day, but today there are 300 people working on site supporting day-to-day operations at the data centre.

Over 7.2 million hours have gone into creating the site, with two buildings completed so far- progress on the third building began last October.

And despite having a 250-acre site (the equivalent of four times the size of Dublin Zoo), the data centre hit a record breaking 4 million hours without any reportable accidents on site. 

Enough steel to fill two Eiffel Towers and concrete that could fill 23.6 Olympic swimming pools were used to create the buildings on site, which is supported by 100pc renewable wind energy.

Read more: Forget Dublin's Silicon Docks...Going west means tech can offer lifestyles as well as work

Interestingly, Facebook are also supporters of saving the bees, with 10 bee hives with 50,000 bees per hive nestled on the grounds of the new centre.

A third of Ireland's bee species are threatened with extinction because of the reduced number of flowers and safe nesting sites in Irish landscapes, so Facebook have added a wider variety of native plants, shrubs and trees on site to provide food for the bees.

The bees fly up to 5km from the apiary, something they hope will benefit local farmers and crop yields with increased pollination.

Now, the media giants have launched their ‘Community Action Grants’ programme in Co Meath, to support local community projects related to culture or technology.

The Facebook Clonee team are encouraging locals to submit ideas around topics that address community needs by putting the power of technology to use for community benefit, improving local STEM education or connecting people on or offline.

“To date, we've donated more than €2.5 million to community projects across all our regions which have included investments in tablets for programming classes to increase the students understanding of technology, contributed to family friendly events, games, concerts and community celebrations for our local communities,” Clonee Data Centre Site Manager, Mark Hunter said.

“We’re very excited to welcome applications from local community groups in Meath over the coming months.”

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