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Equinix refused permission for gas-powered data centre in Dublin

Written by Thu 24 Aug 2023

Equinix has had their planning permission to construct a gas-powered data centre refused by South Dublin County Council.

The American data centre developer planned to build the data centre at Profile Park in Dublin.

Originally, the data centre was to be powered by electricity, but Equinix failed to secure a permanent power supply. New planning permission for a gas-powered data centre was then sought.

The Council refused planning permission, concluding that Equinix failed to prove it had an appropriate grid connection.

Failure to prove ‘acceptable’ use of the enterprise-zoned land and lack of on-site renewable energy were also cited as reasons for rejection.

Equinix informed the Council that it tried to establish a connection with EirGrid, but these efforts were unsuccessful. The company also said it had verbally confirmed with the Electricity Supply Board that Equinix can make a proposal for power supply to the site in six to eight years.

Divided opinions

Planning consultants for Equinix, Brock McClure, said the project would ‘contribute to the emerging digital infrastructure that helps to support a strong Irish economy’.

Equinix already has data centres in Dublin and across Ireland, supporting customers like AWS, Dell, Google Cloud, and Oracle.

The planning consultants said Equinix’s data centres in Ireland act as a ‘gateway to the US’, as US-based content companies must host EU customs data within Europe.

Brock McClure also said that the proposed data centre would have no impact on the grid in the short to medium term, but uncertainty around the timing of grid connection remained.

Within the planning permission documents, Irish Government officials raised concerns about the environmental impact of data centre facilities.

“As the Irish energy sector evolves further and moves towards renewables and a zero-carbon economy, we must review the environment in which electricity suppliers operate,” said Eamon Rryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications in Observation.

A Dublin resident expressed disappointment last year about Equinix’s failure to consider using renewable energy sources and battery storage to supplement the data centre’s high energy demands.

“Renewables will never provide the required energy to fully power a building of this scale, but should make a contribution to the energy needs of the facility,” said the resident.

One Dublin resident also questioned the need for data centres altogether.

“There needs to be less data centres, not more. We don’t need extensions to data centres when we are facing a climate emergency,” said the resident.

As energy use in Irish data centers surged by 31% in 2022, Equinix’s Dublin data centre plans underscore the growing emphasis on environmental considerations and renewable energy integration within the data centre industry.

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Written by Thu 24 Aug 2023

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