EirGrid to significantly boost electricity supply to Intel plant

15 Jan 2019

Intel logo on wall inside a data centre. Image: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos

Major increase in power supply comes amid speculation a massive expansion is on the cards at Leixlip plant, which could generate thousands of jobs.

Electricity provider EirGrid has confirmed that it has secured a deal with Intel to significantly boost the power supply to the massive chip plant in Leixlip.

Various reports suggest that the increase could as much as quadruple the amount of electricity being supplied to the Kildare plant and that the deal is worth in the region of €30m to €40m to EirGrid.

Last week Siliconrepublic.com reported that Intel may be planning a major expansion at its Leixlip plant to meet an anticipated increase in demand for 14nm chips. The plant is understood to already be producing a significant portion of the world’s 14nm chip supply. It is envisaged that, along with expansions of plants in Israel and Oregon, the Kildare expansion could result in as many as 3,000 construction jobs, and close to 900 permanent technician jobs once the expansion is complete.

Intel, which is now in its 30th year in Ireland since starting manufacturing here in 1989, employs around 5,000 people in the country and has invested about $13.9bn in Leixlip to date. A previous expansion at the plant resulted in 5,000 construction jobs.

In terms of the electricity deal with EirGrid, some reports suggest that the expanded plant will eventually consume four times as much electricity as Galway city.

Powering up to cook a lot of chips

In a statement last week, EirGrid said it is planning a significant upgrade to the network supplying power to Intel’s manufacturing plant in Leixlip.

The project will involve the development of a new 220kV electricity substation adjacent to the Intel plant and new circuits to the facility. An upgrade of the Maynooth-Woodland 220kV electricity line located to the north of the plant will also be required at a later point. The new substation will connect to the existing Maynooth-Woodland 220kV transmission line and will be made either by a short, new overhead line, or an underground cable.

EirGrid and its team of consultants are currently carrying out technical and environmental analyses. It said that once these are complete, a best-performing solution will be identified and a planning application will be submitted later this year.

“This is an important project that will provide ongoing electrical support for Intel,” said David Martin, an EirGrid spokesperson. “We are holding a public information day in the Court Yard Hotel in Leixlip on 23 January for anyone who would like more information on the project or who would like to provide feedback to the project team.”

In December, Intel’s senior vice-president and general manager of manufacturing and operations, Irishwoman Ann Kelleher, announced that Intel planned to expand its major wafer fabrication sites in Ireland, Israel and Oregon to pursue a $300bn annual available chip market.

Intel logo on wall inside a data centre. Image: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years