Oral hearing told Apple data centre could require more power than Dublin

The €850 million Apple data centre planned for Athenry would consume more electricity than Dublin, an oral hearing on the project heard this week.

The Galway County Council granted planning permission to the technology giant last September to construct a data centre on lands in Palmerstown, Tobberroe, and Derrydonnell. Several appeals were lodged to An Bord Pleanala, which are being dealt with at the oral hearing taking place this week in the Connacht Hotel.

The oral hearing will also deal with a separate appeal relating to a 220kV electricity substation on the site.

Many of the concerns raised this week relate to the environmental impacts of the development, which was the focus of the first two days of the hearing. These concerns related mainly to energy consumption and fears that the facility could cause flooding in the area, along with impact on local flora and fauna and a loss of amenity space in the area.

Apple has said it is committed to renewable energy sources and will run the centre entirely on renewable energy. Apple spokesperson Frederick Freeman told the hearing the company has run all its data centres on 100 per cent renewable energy since 2013.

However appellants have questioned the feasibility of this goal, and expressed fears that the increased demand placed on the national grid by the centre — which they say could consume eight per cent of the national grid power — could impact on consumer electricity prices.

Apple told the hearing it had entered into a contract with Vayu, an Irish energy supplier which sources energy from wind, landfill gas, biomass, and hydro projects. The company said it would produce some of the electricity for the centre itself and it has also invested in wave energy research in the region.

The company also pointed to a drainage network which is included in the plans and would mimic the current drainage on the site.

Residents living close to the site yesterday raised concerns over the proximity of the development to homes and a local school.

Several groups have also voiced support for the project. Local group Athenry for Apple said there was considerable local support for the development, which would provided a much needed boost for the town.

The hearing, which is expected to last until the end of the week, will also discuss site selection and location, as well as other issues.

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