- Microsoft’s planned Irish power station faces a new hurdle after a complaint from a local resident.
- The US tech company wants to build a power plant outside Dublin for its data centre, but a local resident says it could power local homes.
The future of a Microsoft “power station” in Ireland hangs in the balance after a local resident complained to authorities, according to The Times.
The US tech giant wants to build an 18 megawatt gas-fuelled generator just outside Dublin to power to one of its vast new data centres in the area.
But Dublin-based conservation architect David Hughes reportedly made an observation to local authorities where he pointed out that the power plant could provide enough energy for over 60,000 people.
He specifically said it would be able to support “roughly half of the electrical demand of all of the housing in Cork city,” which is home to approximately 125,000 people.
Hughes — who has also appealed against Apple, Facebook, and Amazon developments, according to The Times — added that Microsoft should team up with Irish energy supplier Bord Gáis to run the generator on biogas and suggested that the firm should use the heat from the data centre for a district heating scheme.
Data centres are the backbone of the internet
Data centres contain thousands of power-hungry servers that allow consumers worldwide to stream videos and music, search the internet, and send emails.
Around 2% of global greenhouse emissions are produced by data centres, which is about the same amount as air travel.
Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other US tech firms have also built data centres on the outskirts of Dublin, which is a short distance from many of their European headquarters and a well connected city between the US and mainland Europe.
One particular hotspot in the Dublin area is The Grange Castle Business Park, where there are four Microsoft data centres and an unknown number of Google data centres.
But the data centres here have been set up relatively quickly and the local electricity network has been unable to keep up.
Microsoft gained planning permission to build four more data centres at Grange Castle last year, according to The Irish Independent. The data centres are likely to cost Microsoft around €900 million (£794 million).
But electricity demand has exceeded supply because the local transmission network hasn’t been upgraded quickly enough.
Government-backed EirGrid, the company that oversees Ireland’s electricity transmission network, warned that there might be a shortfall in electricity in Dublin prior to “huge” upgrade, which is set to begin in the next few weeks. The “West Dublin Project”, as it is known, is set to complete in 2019.
“Space at Grange Castle Business Park is in high demand from international business customers,” an EirGrid spokesman told the Irish Independent. “To accommodate this growth, further power is required to meet both current electricity needs and to plan for future electricity demand.”
Microsoft did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Apple has a fight on its hands in Athenry
Elsewhere on the west coast of Ireland, Apple has a data centre battle of its own on its hands.
The company is trying to build an enormous facility just outside Athenry but a small number of objectors (including Hughes) have delayed the project by more than 18 months.
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