Will Apple’s Data Centre Really Increase Ireland’s Electricity Consumption By 8 Percent?

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Documents sent to Galway County Council estimate Apple’s Ireland data centre would dramatically increase Ireland’s electricity consumption, but are the figures correct?

Documents available through Galway County Council’s website show that Apple’s Irish data centre could increase the electricity consumption of Ireland by 8.2 percent.

A letter sent to the council last May, first spotted by Business Insider, expresses concerns from a person named Allan Daly about the increase of electricity consumption the planned £600 million data centre would demand from Ireland’s power grid.

Daly calculated the amount of power Apple’s data centre would need to consume when all eight of the facilities halls are up and running.

“It is safe to say that Apple’s data centre will be the largest single user of electricity within the Republic of Ireland — by far” Daly is quoted as saying.

Impact

In Apple’s own Environmental Impact Statement, the iPhone maker said that an initial 30MW of power will be required for the development. That figure will increase to 240MW when fully built out with all eight of the planned halls operating at full capacity.

From this, Daly calculated the total annual power consumption.

“Because data centres must operate continuously (8,760 hours per year), Apple’s annual electrical energy usage is estimated to be 262.8 gigawatt hours (GWh)2 for the proposed development of one data hall, and 2,102 GWh for the full build out of eight data halls. In comparison, the entire Republic of Ireland consumed 25, 780 GWh in 2014,” he reportedly wrote in the document.

Correct?

Jon Arnold, managing director of London’s Volta data centres, told TechWeekEurope that the calculations are mostly correct in his opinion, but are still a little high.

“Based on a few calculations on knowing that it is Ireland, the [approximate] total power usage in Ireland is 3.5GigaWatts (based on 2014 figures). This would mean that the Apple data centre would need to be 280MW for the 8 percent to be correct.”

appleApple’s data centre is actually scaling up to 240MW, so the 8.2 percent isn’t too far off.

TechWeekEurope understands that Apple’s Maiden data centre in North Carolina has been operating since 2010 and still has yet to reach 30MW, so the 8 percent figure is still more than 15 years off even in Apple decided to build out all of the planned eight halls on time by 2032.

Apple’s initial power requirement for its Ireland data centre will be 6MW when it comes online in 2017, a figure that is 0.017 percent of Ireland’s national electric power.

By 2021, TechWeekEurope understands the first data hall will have a power requirement of 30MW which is roughly 0.78 percent of Ireland’s expected power use for 2021.

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