CONTROVERSIAL plans for a proposed €450 million data centre in Ennis, currently awaiting a decision by An Bord Pleanala, featured on an episode of acclaimed BBC series Panorama this week.
On Monday BBC One aired the programme which included filming in several Irish locations relevant to the growth in data centre operations and planning applications in Ireland.
The programme questioned the cost of using more data in terms of the increase in emissions and use of water in several countries including the US and Ireland.
Ireland already has over 70 data centres in operation which consume more than 13% of national electricity. At least 30 more have been granted planning permission.
Filming took place in Dublin as well as Ennis at the 145 acre site where Clare County Council granted permission to Art Data Centres for the development which has faced opposition. The planning decision has been appealed by local groups and residents, and a decision is due from an Bord Pleanala in the coming months.
“I am glad that BBC Panorama chose to highlight the issues associated with the increased numbers of data centres in Ireland,” said Sinéad Sheehan of Futureproof Clare who featured in the episode opposing the data centre in Ennis.
“The Ennis data centre should not be allowed to go ahead because it would use up as much energy and water as 200,000 homes. Given the expected increased demands on the grid and on water supplies, priority needs to be given to residences and essential services, not more fossil fuel powered data centres.”
Art Data Centres have previously stated the site is set up to use green hydrogen in the coming years, while it will use power from renewable sources also.
The developers’ said, “The 200 MW Ennis Project underpins the Government Policy Statement as it has the key infrastructure on the 145 acres including access to Grid, Main Gas Interconnector running through site which facilitates self-generation availability on site, and access to both wind and solar farms in Clare through the Grid or Private Wire.
“It also has the key availability of existing high-speed fibre located both on and adjacent to the site . The energy centre turbines have been designed to run on green hydrogen which the Minister Eamon Ryan has indicated he is hopeful will be available by 2030 when the project is due for completion.”
According to the developers if given the go ahead the data centre will generate up to 450 permanent jobs when fully operational, with up to 1,200 in the construction phase along with 600 in support services.