Ireland’s planning body has granted permission for Amazon to build another data center on the edge of Dublin, Ireland, after a legal challenge over its impact on Ireland's sustainability ambitions.
Amazon was first granted planning permission for a €350m ($380m) data center on a 50-acre site for the IDA Business & Technology Park on Donore Road, in February 2020. Construction is ongoing and the facility is due to be fully operational by 2023.
The company was granted planning permission for two more facilities on the same site in Drogheda, County Meath, in February 2021 – but the decision was challenged by An Taisce, the Irish National Trust, which said the authorities had not factored in the impact of the multiple data centers on Ireland's energy supplies and its renewable power targets.
This week, Ireland’s planning body An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the development to go ahead. In its decision, it said the proposed development would “be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
Amazon is due to begin building the second data center in 2023 and bring it online in 2026. Each of the three proposed data centers will use 48MW of power with the campus having a maximum capacity of 144MW. According to official filings, the two-story facilities will have a gross floor area of 28,566 sqm (307,480 sq ft).
Amazon has invested in four wind farms in the Republic of Ireland, and one in Northern Ireland totaling more than 240MW. Two are live, one is due to enter service this year, one next year, and the last will come online in 2024.
Ireland’s state-owned electric power transmission operator EirGrid has imposed a de facto moratorium on new data center developments in the greater Dublin area, saying it will only consider new applications for connection to the grid on a case-by-case basis in the wake of a Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) decision to limit their impact. The restrictions could reportedly last until 2028.
The An Bord Pleanála filing seems to suggest Amazon has already secured the power allocation necessary for this facility, noting the grid operator “has confirmed there is sufficient power available to serve the development”.
Elsewhere in Dublin, at the Clonshaugh Business and Technology Park, plans for another AWS data center could be halted after the local council requested proof that another facility wouldn’t over-saturate the area. Dublin City Council (DCC) told the company that it must provide "a large amount of additional literature" to prove that granting permission for the new facility in Clonshaugh ‘would not create an over-concentration of the facilities’ in the area.
Both the Social Democrats and People Before Profit have called for a nationwide moratorium on future data center projects in the last 12 months; the PBP’s bill would have placed an absolute ban on data centers, Liquid Natural Gas plants, and new fossil fuel-related infrastructure. In Dublin, South Dublin County Council (SDCC) last month voted to prevent future data center construction in the county as part of its new draft development plan.