Microsoft plans private power plant on €900m data centre site in response to energy concerns

Seen and heard: Microsoft’s latest data centre to contain power plant, Revenue to step up share scheme tax crackdown and Intel’s extended leave offer to workers

Microsoft plans to build an unprecedentedly large-scale gas power plant as part of a new €900 million data centre development in Dublin due to its concerns about the severe constraints on Ireland’s energy grid, according to a report in Sunday Business Post. The planned investment will bring the total number of data centres operated by the US tech giant in Ireland to 15. Generally, data centre operators will have smaller diesel-powered generators on-site for emergency scenarios. But in this case, Microsoft plans to construct a 170-megawatt (MW) on-site power plant alongside 21 diesel generators in a bid to offset the high-energy demand from the facilities. The firm’s plans come almost a year after the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) and EirGrid were forced to introduce a moratorium on new data centres in the greater Dublin region until at least 2028 due to severe constraints on the power system.

Intel offers workers thousands of euro to take extended leave

Intel is offering thousands of euro in inducements to encourage up to 2,000 workers to take three months’ unpaid leave as part of cost-cutting measures, the Sunday Business Post reports. Internal documents show manufacturing staff at the US chip giant have been offered up to 40 per cent of their three-month base salary, as well as a $500 (€474) “sign-up bonus”, in return for taking 12 weeks off work unpaid. Up to 2,000 staff at the company’s plant in Leixlip, Co Kildare had been given the option of taking unpaid leave. The news has prompted the Government to engage with Intel, which is one of the largest employers in the State, about its future plans in Ireland.

Revenue to step up share scheme tax crackdown as taxpayers cough up €9.2m so far

Revenue is intensifying a project cracking down on tax on share schemes after initial analysis identified several issues with employers and employees. The tax authority told the Sunday Independent it had already collected more than €9 million in its National Share Schemes Project, a key compliance project for 2023.

“Revenue has a number of compliance interventions which are ongoing with additional interventions planned to take place throughout 2023,” said a Revenue spokeswoman.


Ukraine war: Zelenskiy calls West’s Russian oil cap ‘weak’

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has criticised a price cap set by his western allies on Russian oil exports, calling it “weak”. The cap, approved on Friday, is aimed at stopping countries paying more than $60 (£48) for a barrel of seaborne Russian crude oil. Russia says it will not accept a cap on prices for its oil exports.

The measure – due to come into force on Monday – intensifies western pressure on Russia over the invasion. But Mr Zelenskiy called the price cap “a weak position” and not “serious” enough to damage to the Russian economy.

Abbott plans expansion of life-sciences plant in Cootehill

Life-sciences giant Abbott is planning to expand its Cootehill infant formula nutrition facility on the Cavan-Monaghan border, according to the Sunday Independent. The plant played a crucial role in helping the firm address recent massive formula shortages in the United States.

Last week, Abbott Ireland submitted a planning application to Monaghan County Council, seeking to expand the existing facility to provide additional warehouse capacity, a laboratory area, office space and staff facilities over four storeys.

Brexit fuels surge in UK food prices

Brexit is contributing to a surge in food prices as the country heads into recession, a senior Bank of England policymaker has warned, the Guardian reports. Swati Dhingra – the newest member of the bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC), which sets interest rates – also used an interview with the Observer to suggest that the coming run of central bank rate rises should peak below 4.5 per cent, which is the level that some city investors are expecting. “The market is probably underestimating what damage that [level of interest rates] might cause to the UK economy,” she said.