Multinational micro-chip producer Intel is prepared to spend up to $8 billion (€7 billion) on a manufacturing facility proposed for its base in Co Kildare, planning documents show.
State officials are increasingly optimistic the company will select the Leixlip site, where it employs 4,500 staff, for the semiconductor fabrication facility, known as a “fab”.
Should the proposed “fab” go ahead, it would be the largest investment in the history of the State. The development would see the firm add up to 1,600 staff.
Intel headquarters signalled in December that it was gearing up to expand its Irish operation, which often competes with the firm’s Israeli business for investment.
Details of the proposal have just become publicly available after being filed to Kildare County Council this week.
Intel submitted an application for a 110,000sq/m development which it plans to tack on to a proposed 90,000sq/m facility, which was granted planning permission in late 2017.
The scheme also includes eight huge water tanks, a 48m tower, and a support building with generators and waste water treatment facilities.
Intel has submitted a detailed report via Dublin company AOS Planning. It says the development covered by the 2017 planning permission would cost $4 billion. There would be up to 3,000 construction roles at the peak of building and about 800 full-time positions upon completion.
“The additional development as proposed in this planning application would employ about a further 3,000 construction workers (for a six-month peak) over an estimated four-year build programme at a cost of a further $4 billion, providing for an estimated 800 further full-time permanent jobs on the site,” AOS told planners.
“The proposed development will enable the Intel campus to accommodate manufacturing advances to allow for increased productivity to meet current and future .”
Intel proposes widening the nearby R148 road to accommodate the extra traffic coming onto the site. It says it would install 400 extra bicycle parking spaces, and build a multi-storey carpark, for which it has planning permission, to accommodate almost 600 cars.
To address traffic concerns, it has told planners it would set up a new shuttlebus service to take staff to the campus from the nearby towns of Celbridge, Leixlip, Maynooth and Lucan.
An environmental impact assessment report says Intel would have to remove 275m of protected hedgerows to accommodate the build, as well as almost 2.5 hectares of woodland.
To compensate, Intel says it would plant about 6,000 trees and 12,000 shrubs elsewhere on the campus.
Intel is one of the heaviest users of water in the State. Water usage would increase by almost 50 per cent from its current limit of 37,000 m3 per day. Intel says Irish Water has told it there is enough water capacity onsite for this.
It confirms that Eirgrid, the State agency that runs the electricity grid, would need to build a transmission line and substation nearby to maintain power levels as electricity usage could rise by up to 50 per cent.
Despite proposing to add up to 1,600 jobs, Intel argues it is “not likely” that the development would have any “adverse impacts” on the local housing market.
Intel declined to comment further on the proposed project last night. Intel Ireland general manager Eamonn Sinnott recently said: "The site expansion... is expected to entail multi-year construction activities that will be taken in stages. As always, these stages are subject to change based on business, economic and other factors."