: Nautilus' floating data center faces opposition

Mar 11, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

The Irish socialist party People Before Profit (PBP) has voiced its opposition to Nautilus Data Technologies' floating data center at Limerick Docks, which was originally approved back in 2019. Although construction is due to commence on the facility, Limerick PBP representative Cian Prendiville argues that it would essentially be an "energy vampire" and put further pressure on energy supplies. 

The €35 million ($39m) floating facility received a $5 million cash injection from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and, when complete, is expected to provide 25 permanent jobs. However, opposition to the facility comes following rising energy costs and concerns that the facility will consume similar amounts of energy to the company's Stockton, California data center. Nautilus's California facility consumes 7MW of electricity, which, according to Eirgrid's most recent forecast, is nearly 10% of Limerick's electricity projected demand.

Prendiville outlined that the proposed data center uses water from the Shannon for cooling, lowering operational costs, and as such: "This throws out the already weak sustainability argument, that the excess heat generated through data centre operation would be used to heat homes. It clearly shows just how much of an energy vampire data centres are, providing very few jobs and straining our electricity system."

Elaborating on the Party's belief that a ban on the construction of new data centers and fossil fuel infrastructure is of utmost importance, Prendiville said: "When we highlighted the threat that increased data centre construction was bringing to Ireland's electricity system, many government TDs said that data centres were beneficial and an important part of a transition from fossil fuels. Since then, Eirgrid has made repeated warnings about the instability of the electricity network and this instability was highlighted as a factor in Ireland not being considered for a new 10,000 job manufacturing facility."

He added that to protect energy supply and meet carbon-neutrality targets, growing data processing carried out by companies need to be tackled: "This would mean outlawing harmful online surveillance and ensuring that any so-called 'smart city' monitoring technologies are designed to minimise data collection and processing," he said. 

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