Amazon AWS: Planned AWS data center in Dublin to go ahead despite challenge

Apr 29, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

After a prolonged battle by charity An Taisce to defeat Amazon's Co Meath 48 megawatt (MW) data center proposal at the IDA Business & Technology Park, it has been announced that the giant's plans have been given the green light. 

The charity had opposed the facility based on environmental concerns that it would have a detrimental impact on both the climate and the nation's emission targets. An Taisce first put its complaint forward back in July, but this week, An Bord Pleanála went ahead and granted planning permission after concluding the proposal would not have the impact the charity claimed. However, the facility will consume more power than the whole of Kilkenny, which, according to Eirgrid, uses 60MW of power. 

AWS had already been granted permission for a data center at the site back in 2020, which will be operational by 2023, but following that, put forward a proposal for two more in 2021, which were granted planning permission - this was when An Taisce stepped in. The charity argued that both council and the appeal board were not taking into consideration the cumulative impacts of energy use, and instead approaching each proposal on a case-by-case basis. It argued, that with the way things are going, by 2027, data centers will consume 31% of Ireland's grid-generated electricity. However, after the charity's opposition was quashed, AWS announced construction on the new facility will begin next year. The three phases will use 48MW each, with a maximum demand of 144MW - this equates to around 473,040 tonnes of CO2 per year. 

In AWS's appeal submission by John Spain & Associates, the giant claimed that this is a 'worst-case scenario,' and projects this will decrease as the nation's grid reaches its 70% renewable mix target by 2030. This was also something An Taisce contested in its appeal, by stating that the rate of data center development is and will continue to weaken the benefits of renewable energy generation.

Currently, there are 70 data centers in operation across Ireland, with a total energy consumption of 900MW. A further 250MW is expected to be added in the near future, with an additional eight data centers under consideration.