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Construction of data centres in Ireland to generate billions

Kirsten Doyle
By Kirsten Doyle, ITWeb contributor.
Johannesburg, 20 Nov 2019

The Irish tech industry has built 13 new data centres since 2017, and has grown operational capacity by more than 50% during that time. 

Back then, there were 41 operational data centres, with an estimated 420MW of power capacity. This year in Q3, there are 54 operational data centres, with a power capacity of 642 MW.

So said David McAuley, rounder & CEO of BitPower, speaking at the Global Data Centre Forum, hosted by Enterprise Ireland in Dublin this week.

He painted an optimistic picture of the Irish data centre landscape, based on the Host In Ireland Q3 2019 Report Update, saying that during the last two years, between six and 10 data centres were under construction during any single quarter. 

“Right now, there are 10 data centres under construction with an average size of 20MW each, representing an investment of approximately €1.5 billion."

McAuley added that aggregated data shows an investment of around €1.3 billion per year, which is expected to continue over the next three to four years. In this context, investment refers to buildings, on-site infrastructure, power and cooling equipment, and does not include any other ICT hardware such as servers and racks.

He said 2019 saw several planning approvals in progress, and noted faster turn-around times, with developers applying for planning permission in one quarter and receiving planning approval by the next quarter.

Currently, there is a pipeline of 31 facilities of approximately 20MW each with planning permission, and another five data centres in the planning application process. 

“The 54 data centres that are currently in Ireland have a combined capacity of 642MW of grid-connected power. The 31 facilities in the pipeline are expected to add another 600MW, the 10 under construction an additional 200MW.”

This, he said, will present challenges for the power grid, although the move to the cloud has seen far more efficient use of energy. 

“Data centres built ten years ago needed huge cooling units that are not needed in today's facilities, many of which use free cooling, and no cooling towers.”