Wholesale data center developer Echelon Data Centres has agreed to fund a 220kV substation which will connect to a planned giant wind farm off the East coast of Ireland.

The substation, at Avoca River Business Park, will draw power from the 520M Arklow Bank Wind Farm Phase 2, which SSE Renewables proposes to build six to 13 kilometers (three to eight miles) off the coast of County Wicklow. Echelon The substation will connect the wind farm into the Irish grid - as well as powering Echelon's 100MW DUB20 data center which is also under development.

The wind farm is a big part of Ireland's Climate Action Plan, and the substation was welcomed by the Irish premier, the Taoiseach Micheál Martinbeing.

Wind turbine
Arklow Bank is Ireland's first and only operating offshore wind farm – Thinkstock / kruwt

A while in the planning

“This collaboration between renewable energy and tech will ensure that key decarbonization targets contained in the Climate Action Plan are met and is a model which could be rolled out in other communities across the country,” said the Taoiseach..

Arklow Bank Phase 1, which is owned and operated by GE Wind Energy, is Ireland’s first and only operating offshore wind farm, and the first in the world to use turbines greater than 3MW. It was commissioned back in 2004, and delivers 25MW from seven turbines.

Phase 2 is planned to be more than 20 times as large, at 520MW. SSE says in its public consultation that it plans to invest between €1 billion and €2 billion ($1.2bn-$2.4bn) and create 80 jobs, while enabling part of Ireland's plan to decarbonize. , off the coast of County Wicklow. The new phase is expected to have an export capacity of 520MW and will power Echelon’s DUB20 (Arklow) 100MW data center.

The substation, costing around €50 million ($7m) will be built by SSE to serve the data center and business park as well as the grid. It is subject to planning permission via a future planning application

The joint announcement of the substation promises a further 250 new jobs will be created in Arklow and include up to 80 jobs during the construction of the substation. When it's all up and runningm, the data center will provide 90 jobs, and the winf farm around 80.

Sharing grid infrastructure and locating data centers closer to renewable sources is a direct part of the Irish Climate Action Plan. Ireland also hopes to deliver on a target to reach 1 GW generated by offshore wind by 2025.

Barry Kilcline, director of developments at SSE Renewables, said: “This is a major innovation for the integration of renewables and data centers into Ireland’s national grid. Through this landmark agreement with Echelon Data Centres, we will develop the new shared grid infrastructure at Arklow that will facilitate the development of the next phase of the 520MW Arklow Bank Wind Park... We’re on track to help meet the Government’s 2025 target of 1GW of offshore wind, and to enable the connection of Echelon’s planned data center for South Wicklow.”

Phase 1 of Arklow Bank Wind Park was built by Airtricity and GE Wind Energy. Phase 2 was originally planned to follow straight on from Phase 1, backed by Acciona Energy of Spain, but it was cancelled in 2007. SSE bought Airtricity in 2008, and in 2018 became the a new backer for Phase 2.

SSE has other big plans for offshore wind, and is a part of the consortium building the world's largest wind farm, on the Dogger Bank, 125 to 290 kilometres (78 to 180 mi) off the east coast of Yorkshire. The Dogger Bank farm will include four farms, with a total potential capacity of 4.8GW.