Amazon’s new Drogheda data centre met with opposition

7 Jul 2021

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An Taisce said that authorities have not adequately considered the data centre’s impact on Ireland’s climate targets.

Amazon’s data centre development in Louth is on hold following a complaint from An Taisce.

The tech giant recently secured planning permission to build a second data centre with a €350m development outside the town of Drogheda but the environmental organisation has objected, the Irish Times reports.

An Taisce said that authorities, in making their decision to grant planning permission, have not considered the environmental impact of data centres and the effect that this will have on Ireland’s climate action commitments.

The first data centre on the site of the IDA Business and Technology Park outside Drogheda has already begun construction. It will be a 48MW facility.

The contested second data centre was due to begin construction in 2023 and be completed by 2026.

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In its opposition to the development, An Taisce said that An Bord Pleanála was not “adequately addressing the cumulative impacts of energy use” by data centres such as the one proposed by Amazon.

Planning and environmental planning officer Phoebe Duvall said that Ireland hosts an “enormous and disproportionate amount” of data centres and that this is adding to the country’s emissions.

Ireland has attracted a great deal of data centre developments from tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and most recently TikTok. But there is opposition to these developments given their vast energy usage.

There is growing unease about the impact that data centres will have on Ireland’s electricity supply and the resilience of its grid. There is a high concentration of data centres in the east of the country.

Eirgrid, the operator of the national electricity grid, forecasts that data centres will use 27pc of electricity on the grid by 2030 and that investments will need to be made in the grid if Ireland is to meet its climate action and renewable energy targets.

The Business Post reported last weekend that Eirgrid is to spend €100m on renting 200MW of energy to see Ireland through winter demand.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com