Ireland can be model for green data centres


Data centres are not optional if we want to keep living the modern lives to which we have become accustomed, the boss of one of the country’s biggest data centre developers has said.

Echelon Data Centres has committed to working towards using 100pc renewable resources to power its facilities, but its CEO, Niall Molloy, said “halfway house solutions” would be needed.

The growth of the sector in Ireland has become increasingly controversial because of the huge energy resources needed to power each facility.

A new Echelon report on sustainability argues that one gigawatt facilities are on the way: “The only question is: how does the industry address the issue of powering them sustainably and cleanly?” it said.

The company has six facilities under development in Ireland and the UK with potential combined capacity of 500mw. It’s DUB10 site at Clondalkin in Dublin is expected to come online later this year.

Data centres should be moved away from major cities and closer to the sources of green power, with on-site generation from wind, solar, biogas or hydrogen, said the report. “Ireland can be a model for this. Much of its thousands of kilometres of coastline is ripe for wind farming.”

Echelon has a deal with SSE Renewables to co-locate grid infrastructure.

Molloy told The Sunday Independent that “suggestions for limiting the growth of the dataverse are not viable. Society is accustomed to smartphones, to 5G, to internet shopping, to video conferencing, to content streaming, to virtual assistants (AI) and to early applications of the Internet of things”.

Echelon would, in the short-term, use “halfway house solutions - such as onsite energy centres, powered by gas, and onsite biogas production facilities - neither of which are wholly ‘green’, but which are significant improvements on diesel backup power generators, and which will smooth the transition to 100pc renewable energy,” he said. 

In the medium to long-term, it would use new technologies such as liquid cooling, battery tech and green hydrogen.”

Source – The Sunday Independent