Apple’s €850m Athenry data centre finally gets green light

12 Aug 2016

Irish planning body An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to Apple’s €850m data centre in Galway, originally announced in February 2015 but delayed by a series of objections.

The new Apple data centre will be in Athenry, costing the company some €850m of an overall €1.7bn investment that will see a similar centre built in Denmark.

Renewable energy projects are at the core of this build, with the company claiming that it will run the centre on 100pc renewable energy.

Apple data centre Athenry

When completed, the centre will power Apple’s online services, including the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri, for customers across Europe.

To be built on a 500-acre greenfield site in Derrydonnell, the company hopes the new facility will be open by the end of next year.

Though despite the financial outlay and the promise of some 150 jobs in the area upon completion – added to the jobs that will be created by the construction work needed to erect the facility – the plan wasn’t to everybody’s liking.

However, after considering the objections it received, An Bord Pleanála has given the official go-ahead to Apple. The 24,500sqm Athenry data centre will be the company’s largest data centre project in Europe.

In another planning application, Apple sought approval for a 220kV electrical substation and a number of towers. Again, after objections, An Bord Pleanála has given official approval.

As part of the deal, Apple has had to sign up to a number of conditions, including providing a €1m fund for ocean energy testing in Galway, as well as committing to the planting of native trees to offset the environmental impact of the build.

It is understood that the data centre, which will come online in 2017, will have a 6MW requirement and this will grow to 30MW when it is fully operational. This could grow to 240MW in 10 to 15 years’ time.

This all adds to recent assertions, posited by Ronan Harris, head of Google Ireland, that Ireland is the data capital of Europe.

A detailed report published by global data analyst group 451 Advisors in 2013 predicted that Ireland’s data centre industry would overtake the UK and mainland Europe locations, with a growth rate of 18pc over the coming years.

Main Apple image via View Apart/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic