Apple’s data centre in Ireland could increase the country’s electricity consumption by 8.2%

Apple data centre
What Apple’s data centre could look like. Apple

Apple’s new Irish data centre could increase electricity consumption in Ireland by 8.2%, according to a document that can be accessed through Galway County Council’s website.

Galway County Council received a detailed letter from a man named Allan Daly last May expressing a number of concerns he has over an €850 million (£599 million) data centre that Apple wants to build in a forest near Athenry, on the west coast of Ireland. Electricity consumption and energy sources are among Daly’s top concerns.

Apple wants to use the data centre to store European user data and to help power online services including the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps, and Siri for customers across Europe, according to a press release announcing the development in February 2015. In the same release, Apple said the data centre will run on 100% renewable energy.

Daly, who does not provide his occupation, starts his letter by saying that the electrical power demand for Apple’s data centre is “enormous,” before going on to calculate how much electricity the data centre will consume by the time all eight data halls have been built (expected to take 15 years).

“It is safe to say that Apple’s data centre will be the largest single user of electricity within the Republic of Ireland — by far” writes Daly.

The “Environmental Impact Statement” that Apple produced before submitting its planning application to Galway County Council gives an indication as to how much electricity the data centre will use. It states:

30MW (megawatts) of power required for operation of the proposed development, rising to 240MW if full built out — major power consumption.

In his letter, Daly goes on to calculate what he believes to be the annual electricity consumption of the data centre.

“Because data centres must operate continuously (8,760 hours per year), Apple’s annual electrical energy usage is estimated to be 262.8 gigawatt hours (GWh)2 for the proposed development of one data hall, and 2,102 GWh for the full build out of eight data halls. In comparison, the entire Republic of Ireland consumed 25, 780 GWh in 2014.”

Daly includes a number of footnotes in his letter to show where his figures have been sourced. He goes on to highlight how one data hall will increase electrical energy usage across the Republic of Ireland by 1%, while eight data halls will increase it by 8%.”

Professor Ian Bitterlin, a consulting engineer at Critical Facilities Consulting and a visiting lecturer at Leeds University, told Business Insider that the 8.2% increase in Ireland’s total electricity consumption sounds plausible.

Apple data centre

Daly continues: “Due to the monumental power demands of the proposed development, this impact must be evaluated.” He adds “it is an issue of national importance.”

Apple filed a planning application to build a 263,000 square foot data centre hall in the middle of Derrydonnell Forest next to the golf course last April. Apple only sought planning permission for one data centre hall but it envisions building up to eight in a phased approach taking at least 15 years to complete. Apple would have to reapply for planning permission each time it wants to build a new data hall.

Business Insider has contacted Apple and is awaiting a response.

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