Amazon is getting the green light for a new data center in Meath that will use enough energy to power most of Kilkenny

Online giant Amazon has secured the green light for a new data center in County Meath, despite opposition from An Taisce.

This follows An Bord Pleanála, who granted planning permission for the project after concluding that Tunis Properties LLC’s proposal would not have a significant impact on the climate or legally binding national greenhouse gas emissions targets.

The project stalled after An Taisce appealed a decision by Meath County Council last July to approve planning for the 48MW data center for the IDA business park on the outskirts of Drogheda.

For comparison, the whole of Kilkenny consumes 60 MW of electricity, according to Eirgrid.

Amazon already operates a data center in the business park and Amazon Web Services (AWS) has stated that the cumulative demand for three phases of data center development in the IDA business park will have a maximum demand of 144 MW.

AWS states that the 144 MW corresponds to around 473,040 tons of CO2 per year.

Their appeal statement from John Spain & Associates that this is a worst-case scenario and is likely to decrease as the national fuel mix reduces its carbon intensity as the grid reaches its target of 70% renewable energy by 2030.

The new data center forms the second expansion stage of the business park.

The Appellate Body inspector in the case, Barry O’Donnell, recommended that planning permission be granted after pointing out that indirect CO2 emissions from the installation’s power supply will not count towards Ireland’s reduced emissions target or be adversely affected and will instead be covered by the EU emissions are regulated Trading system that sets EU-wide targets for sectors within the system.

A report commissioned by Amazon has estimated that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has invested €2 billion in its network of data centers here over the past decade.

In her appeal, An Taisce alleged that councils and the Appeals Committee grant data center approval on a case-by-case basis without adequately considering the cumulative impact of energy use.

Figures presented in the appeal say 70 data centers are operational with 900 MW and another eight are under consideration, which are expected to use another 250 MW.

An Taisce explained that growth is unabated with data centers now consuming 11 per cent of grid-generated electricity in Ireland and expected to grow to 31 per cent by 2027.

An Taisce further claimed that the unchecked development of data centers is diluting the benefits of renewable energy generation that have taken place over the past 20-30 years.

An Taisce claimed that existing and planned data centers expected to be built over the next seven years are expected to require 12.5 terawatts of additional energy beyond current generation – enough to power 24 million homes.

The response from Amazon Web Services (AWS) states that the issue is not that there is a disproportionate number of data centers in Ireland.

Mr Spain explained that planning policy supports the deployment of data centers in Ireland and a site such as the site in question is considered to be the optimal location for these developments.

Mr. Spain further claimed that if data center permits were denied for the reasons set out in the An Taisce objection, no major industrial energy development would be able to secure development, thereby blocking economic growth.

Mr Spain explained that the proposal “represents an important part of AWS’ investment in Ireland”.

Mr Spain explained that the appeal does not recognize that Ireland is recognized as a sustainable location for data center development from a planning policy perspective.

With planning permission secured, AWS is now in a position to apply to Eirgrid for a power connection contract. Amazon is getting the green light for a new data center in Meath that will use enough energy to power most of Kilkenny

Fry Electronics Team

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