Apple to invest €1.7bn in renewable energy data centres in Ireland and Denmark

23 Feb 20152 Shares

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Apple is to invest €1.7bn to build and operate two data centres in Europe that will be 100pc powered by renewable energy. One will be located in Athenry on Ireland’s west coast and the other in Denmark’s central Jutland.

Both data centres will power Apple’s online services including the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for customers across Europe.

The new €850m Athenry data centre will be the company’s largest data centre project in Europe, providing 300 jobs during its multiple phases. 

The move comes just weeks after it emerged Apple is to build a US$848m, 130 megawatt solar farm in California that will produce enough energy to power its new spaceship headquarters and all of its retail stores in California, equal to 60,000 homes.

The two data centres, each measuring 166,000 square metres, are expected to begin operations in 2017 and include designs with additional benefits for their communities.

For the project in Athenry, Ireland, Apple will recover land previously used for growing and harvesting non-native trees and restore native trees to Derrydonnell Forest.

The project will also provide an outdoor education space for local schools, as well as a walking trail for the community.

In Viborg, Denmark, Apple will eliminate the need for additional generators by locating the data centre adjacent to one of Denmark’s largest electrical substations.

The facility is also designed to capture excess heat from equipment inside the facility and conduct it into the district heating system to help warm homes in the neighbouring community.

Apple's biggest investment project in Europe to date

“We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

It’s the right thing to do

Speaking at the the recent annual Goldman Saches investment conference Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We at Apple know climate change is real. The time for talk is past and the time for action is now.

“All of our data centers are now on renewable energy. Just today, we're announcing our most ambitious project ever. We're partnering with First Solar to build a new 1300 acre solar farm in Monterey, California.

“Enough renewable energy for all of our new Apple Campus 2, every other office we have in California, all 52 Apple retail stores in California, and our data center in Newark, California. US$850 million investment.

“It's the right thing to do both socially and financially,” Cook said.

Apple now directly employs 18,300 people across 19 European countries and has added over 2,000 jobs in the last 12 months alone.

Last year, Apple spent more than €7.8 billion with European companies and suppliers helping build Apple products and support operations around the world.

Apple supports nearly 672,000 European jobs, including 530,000 jobs directly related to the development of iOS apps. Since the App Store’s debut in 2008, developers across Europe have earned more than €6.6 billion through the worldwide sale of apps and in-app purchases.

“This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet,” Cook added.

Like all Apple data centres, the new facilities will run entirely on clean, renewable energy sources from day one.

Apple said it will also work with local partners to develop additional renewable energy projects from wind or other sources to provide power in the future. These facilities will have the lowest environmental impact yet for an Apple data centre, Cook said.

The news was welcomed by Ireland's Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD who said: “It is a very significant investment in the West of Ireland and is fantastic news for Athenry with significant knock-on benefits for the region.

“Apple has had a major presence in Ireland for many years. As the Government works to secure recovery and see it spread to every part of the country, today's announcement is another extremely positive step in the right direction.”

IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan said: “Ireland has for several years successfully attracted data centre investments from major corporates, but this latest investment enhances Ireland’s track record in this area further. It is particularly noteworthy that the West Region and County Galway in particular, has been chosen as the location for a project with a pan-European dimension.”

Wind energy image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com