After 30 years in Ireland, Intel gets the green light for growth

26 Nov 2019

Intel Ireland GM Eamonn Sinnott welcomes guests including Paschal Donohoe, TD, to the 30th anniversary celebration. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

As it marks its 30th anniversary in Ireland, Intel has received approval for a new fabrication facility in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

Intel’s proposed addition of a $4bn semiconductor fabrication facility to its Co Kildare campus has received planning permission from An Bord Pleanála.

According to the planning application submitted in February this year, the new facility will be a 110,000 sq m development involved in the manufacture of integrated circuits.

The latest development comes three years after the first phase of the ‘fab’ facility was greenlit at an initial cost of $4bn.

As with previous developments by Intel in Leixlip, the new facility received objections from local farmer Thomas Reid. His latest objection to An Bord Pleanála claimed the proposed fab facility is contrary to the proper planning and development of the area. It is the eighth development by Intel at Leixlip that Reid has objected to since 2012.

However, on Monday (25 November), An Bord Pleanála’s appeals board ruled that the new fab is in line with national, regional and local planning policy, and will not be injurious to amenities or properties in the vicinity.

The complete $8bn investment from Intel in Leixlip is expected to yield an additional 1,600 full-time jobs on completion while employing 6,000 construction workers at the peak of the development. It is reported to be the largest single private investment on one project in Ireland’s history.

According to the Leinster Express, Kildare County Council stands to gain development contributions of €9.7m from the project.

Large birthday cakes shaped like the numbers 3 and 0 and decorated in Intel’s trademark blue colouring.

Intel celebrates 30 years in Ireland. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Investment and expansion

Since 1989, the Leixlip campus has transformed from a former 360-acre stud farm to a base of almost 5,000 full-time employees representing a total investment of $15bn from Intel.

The site began manufacturing desktop PC systems and motherboards and then, following the addition of the Fab 10 facility, became the only location in Europe manufacturing Intel microprocessors. Later, Fab 14 and Fab 24 were added to the complex and, in 2014, Intel revealed plans for a three-year upgrade to the site that would make Ireland a key cog in the production of the company’s 14nm (nanometre) process technology.

A woman in a burgundy velvet top and black jacket addresses an audience from a Perspex podium in front of a lit-up Intel logo.

Ann Kelleher, SVP and GM of manufacturing operations, Intel. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Intel claims to contribute more than €1bn to the Irish economy each year and support almost 6,700 jobs in the local economy.

Its 30th year in Ireland was marked with celebrations on 22 November with guests such as Suzanne Doyle, the mayor of Kildare, and Paschal Donohoe, TD, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.

“I would like to congratulate and thank the people here at Intel Ireland who have continually demonstrated the passion, dedication and hard work necessary to take a mere possibility and turn it into a reality. I am proud of how we have grown together over the past 30 years and I look forward with excitement to the possibilities of the next 30 years,” said Intel Ireland general manager Eamonn Sinnott.

Ann Kelleher, senior vice-president and general manager of manufacturing operations at Intel, unveiled a specially commissioned sculpture for the town of Leixlip at the event. Created by Irish blacksmith John Hogan, it depicts delicate butterflies through hand-forged ironwork.

“Intel Ireland is one of the key high-volume manufacturing sites worldwide and as part of this network is critical to Intel’s success,” said Kelleher.

Two women hold a cotton sheet after pulling it away to reveal a large blue ironwork sculpture of butterflies emanating from a pillar of electronic connectors.

Ann Kelleher unveils a sculpture at the 30th anniversary event. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Last December, Intel revealed that it had begun early planning for manufacturing site expansions at bases in Oregon and Israel as well as Ireland, with construction slated to begin in 2019.

The Irish development is now awaiting final confirmation from Intel globally. The company said in a statement: “Following on from this update, in Ireland, we are progressing with the early phases of a multi-year construction activity. As always, site expansion and the related investment will be taken in stages and are subject to change based on business, economic and other factors.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.