Tech giant Microsoft is planning a new data centre campus in Co Kildare, as it seeks to expand its data centre footprint in Ireland.
The company said it was in the early stages of developing plans for the campus, which would be located near Jigginstown, Naas, on a site specifically earmarked for data centre use by Kildare County Council.
The company said the plan was part of deepening its ties with Kildare, where it already has relationships with Maynooth University, Connected Hubs in Kildare and through the Dream Space initiative and ETB partnerships.
“Microsoft has commenced initial pre-planning consultation with relevant authorities which will help to inform the evolution of the design process. As project plans develop, Microsoft will embark on an extensive engagement process with local residents, businesses and community groups,” the company said in a statement.
The groups will commit to using 100 per cent renewable energy to power the centre, along with the construction of greenway walking routes, cycle tracks and recreational amenities for the local community.
“It is our ambition that this project will be designed and developed in line with the six guiding principles included in the Principles for Sustainable Data Centre Development set out by Government in its 2022 policy statement on the role of data centres in Ireland’s enterprise strategy,” Microsoft said.
Microsoft has committed to powering all of its data centres in Ireland with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025. The company last year signed a number multi-year corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs) with energy companies to create new renewable energy contracts and add more than 900MW of wind and solar energy to Ireland’s energy grid. Using CPPAs, businesses can buy renewable electricity directly from a generator and bring additional green energy capacity to the grid. Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, 15 per cent of electricity demand is to be delivered from renewable energy CPPAs by 2030. Those contracts will bring Microsoft’s contribution to close to 30 per cent of that target.
Microsoft said the planned Kildare campus would create a “large number of permanent jobs” once fully operational, in addition to supporting engineering, electrical, logistics and construction jobs during its building phase.
“The proposed development is part of the company’s strategy to unlock the opportunities of the digital economy and further strengthen Ireland’s technology sector,” the company said. “The selection of Naas will also help to build its reputation as a regional digital hub at the forefront of Ireland’s digital economy.”
The news of Microsoft’s plans comes only days after Amazon was granted planning permission for an additional three data centres at its campus in north Dublin. The centres were approved despite objections raised by environmental groups, amid concerns about the environmental impact of the project.
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said data centres would remain a key component of Ireland’s infrastructure, despite growing worries over the pressure they are putting on the State’s energy supply. However, he stressed data centre companies would have to play a role in decarbonisation.