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28/10/2021

Major Data Centre could be on way to Offaly

data centre

Major Data Centre could be on way to Offaly. FILE PIC

OFFALY could soon be considered as the location for a major data centre because of increasing pressure on the electricity grid in Dublin.

Data centres, which are crucial in maintaining the ever growing information technology sector, consume vast amounts of power and have been cited as a threat to Ireland's energy security.

A senior official of Offaly County Council hinted last week that Offaly will probably be targeted by the data centre industry for a new facility.

For that to happen, a local power supply will have to be in place and in Offaly's case, that will partly depend on the availability of renewable generation.

During a debate on renewable energy targets, Andrew Murray, senior planner, indicated that Offaly can be an attractive location for industry.

“Big energy users - and I'm not going to say what they are or what types of development they are - are soon going to be told they cannot locate in Dublin because the grid is constrained,” said Mr Murray.

Mr Murray made two points about the importance of strengthening Offaly's contribution to the national grid.

“One, the grid is less constrained in Offaly, and two, big companies, corporate entities, more and more now, want to locate beside renewable energy because it's part of their image and their corporate investment.”

He cautioned against “getting a negative narrative out about having too much renewable energy”.

“Reasonable balance” is the most important. “If each individual wind farm is not part of this reasonable balance we will not be afraid to say we don't recommend it.”

He said the county was now at a “critical point” on renewable energy and the proposal for a “green energy park” in Rhode had been included in the county development plan.

The proposal for that park was due to the county's “positive moves on renewable” energy.

“The same will go for Shannonbridge where we're trying to put a lot of work now into seeing if there is a reuse for Shannonbridge”.

The peat-fired ESB generation stations in Rhode, Ferbane (Lumcloon) and Shannobridge have been closed in line with the transition from fossil fuels.

Rhode is already the location of alternative generation and battery storage is being developed there and in Lumcloon.

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