Publishing Date: Oct 22, 2021

Datacentres for better security

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PRESS RELEASE: Offaly County Council is seeking to explore the potential of attracting data centres and large technology enterprises to North Offaly and the wider Midlands region.

The council is now engaging consultants to deliver a feasibility study on a concept of integrating data centres with renewable energy in the area.

The study will run alongside a separate initiative at Rhode Energy Green Park which is exploring the potential uses of green hydrogen created from renewable energy production.

The new feasibility study will research how best to match renewable energy and green hydrogen production in the midlands with data centres requirements.

The council said the aim is to help attract significant inward investment and employment creation.

Last year, the council in partnership with North Offaly Development Company was awarded €75,000 from the Just Transition Fund to complete the research project entitled ‘Exploring Data Centre Integration with Renewable Energy and Green Hydrogen in the Midlands'.

Noting that the Commission for Regulation of Utilities recently said that data centres would be asked to locate outside of Dublin where power demand is highest, and close to power sources, the council said it wished to explore the potential for integrating data centre with the significant number of renewable energy projects in the county.

The project comes in the wake of an announcement by Bord Na Mona recently of its plan to develop Ireland’s first dedicated renewable energy business park on 3,000 hectares in the Derrygreenagh bog group. It wants to locate over 200MW of electricity beside businesses locating in the energy park.

The council research is expected to be completed within the next year – with consultants asked to engage with existing data centre operators and those with plans for expansion in Ireland.

A study is already underway into the potential of creating a green hydrogen demonstration hub at Rhode Green Energy Park, integrating energy from renewable electricity with the gas network.

Project partners on this feasibility study are the council, the North Offaly Development Fund, SSE, which owns a peaking plant at Rhode and the Yellow River windfarm, and Bord na Mona.

This separate project is looking at the possibility of a green hydrogen electrolyser and how it could work with the local grid and the producers of renewable energy and what further uses could be made of the hydrogen.

Consideration has been given for further energy production from the hydrogen, its injection into the national grid, its use in the transport sector as fuel, or even to decarbonise the Rhode area through a district heating system.

Internationally, the use of green hydrogen as a data centre energy source is being increasingly explored.

The council said hydrogen had the potential to provide very low carbon operation and as a safe back up energy storage to support data centres.


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