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The objectors have also raised red flags about how Eirgrid, Ireland’s version of the National Grid, will be able to cope with the volume of electricity Apple will need to power its datacentre.
This point was addressed by Fredrick Freeman, programme manager for Apple’s Global Energy Team, during the ABP oral hearing, where he outlined a commitment made by the company to supply the Irish National Grid with the same amount of renewable energy as its datacentres consume.
Apple has only sought planning permission for one data hall so far, but has set out plans to build seven more – over the course of the next 10 to 15 years – that will be supported by 144 diesel backup generators.
The first phase of the project will see 18 generators installed on-site, which Daly (and his fellow objectors) claim could have a detrimental effect on noise levels and air quality in the surrounding area.
“The west of Ireland has an abundant supply of renewable energy, mainly in the form of wind, which presents a challenge to the grid because we use pretty much all of it in the east of Ireland,” he says, which – incidentally – is where the bulk of the country’s hyperscale datacentres can be found.
“We’ve always got this challenge where we have to move the energy from the west coast to the east coast and that requires infrastructure investment,” Mc Auley continues.
In the Apple case, there are two individuals – Allan Daly and Sinead Fitzpatrick – pursuing the judicial review against ABP, who are understood to live locally.
Conversely, Host in Ireland’s Mc Auley claims the Derrydonnell location is a natural fit for what Apple has planned, particularly when it comes to meeting its renewable energy targets.
Transcripts from the discussions provide a degree of insight into the objections of Daly and Fitzpatrick, which centre predominantly on the environmental impact the project could potentially have on the local area.
There are concerns raised about the potential affect of the build on the country’s carbon emissions, given the large amounts of power datacentres typically consume.
The site chosen by Apple has raised eyebrows among objectors, who claim the forest lacks the supporting infrastructure needed – from both a power and accessibility perspective – to make it a suitable location for a datacentre.
Orla Feeney is a member of the 18-strong Concerned Residents of Lisheenkyle Group (CRLG), who are are among the appelants listed in the oral hearing documents.