Sunday 25 August 2019

Green light for west Dublin data centre

A major data centre development in west Dublin that could be worth tens of millions of euro has been given the go-ahead by planning authorities. Stock photo: Getty
A major data centre development in west Dublin that could be worth tens of millions of euro has been given the go-ahead by planning authorities. Stock photo: Getty

Fearghal O'Connor

A major data centre development in west Dublin that could be worth tens of millions of euro has been given the go-ahead by planning authorities.

Asian company K2 Data Centres plans to build two high-tech facilities with a combined size of almost 60,000 sq m in Ballycoolin.

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The company, owned by Malaysian conglomerate The Kuok Group, has been given permission to demolish two existing light industrial and commercial buildings, in order to construct the two- and three-storey facilities. The multi-million euro development will include 32 emergency generators as a back-up to a connection to the grid.

A favourable climate and a business-friendly tax environment are usually cited as the main reasons why Ireland has become a major location for data centres, which house the hardware that powers the web and major digital networks. Many of the world's biggest tech firms, such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, have built large data centres here, and it is estimated that well over €7bn has been invested in such buildings since 2010.

But critics argue that the developments rarely create huge numbers of jobs, at least after the initial construction phase, and that they also use large amounts of energy.

This newspaper reported in 2017 that ESB was at that stage facing demands to more than double its entire electricity supply for Dublin, to feed what it described as proposed new "power-hungry" data centres.

Nevertheless, a study carried out last year by the IDA found that at least €1bn is pumped into the economy every year through the development and operation of data centres here. The report found that 5,700 construction and operational jobs are supported by the sector per annum, 3,700 of them directly.

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