€35m floating data centre to create 124 jobs

A revolutionary €35m floating data centre is set to be moored on the banks of the River Shannon, in a move which could create 124 jobs.

Limerick Docks beat a number of locations across Europe to the multi-million euro investment, with minister of state Patrick O’Donovan hailing it as “yet another element of the city and county’s rejuvenation”.

With centres providing information technology power for businesses being very sought after, the Shannon Foynes Port Company has teamed up with Californian firm Nautilus which plans to moor a floating vessel providing commercial data storage at Ted Russell Dock, just outside Limerick city centre.

A new concept, Nautilus Data Technology employs water cooling technology in its data centres, meaning they operate more efficiently and less expensively than traditional land-based facilities.

The data centre, it is anticipated, will be able to service a number of companies, or a single firm, with Nautilus president and chief executive Jim Connaughton saying: “We will be able to serve a small company, to one of the larger social media operations — and everything in between.”

According to the proposals, the dock off James Casey Walk will be transformed. The former ESB substation will be demolished, and replaced with a new industrial building comprising storage and office space. The existing clock tower, a protected structure, will be retained.

Mr Connaughton, speaking from Washington DC, said that the development, if it gets planning permission, will create around 24 permanent positions, as well as 100 roles during construction to be delivered in “the skilled trades” including design, architecture, and civil construction.

In terms of the size of the data centre, Mr Connaughton said it will match that of current vessels at the docks.

According to planning documents, the barge will feature four data halls comprised within two floors above the barge deck, with supporting cooling and electrical systems below the waterline.

Mr Connaughton hopes in the event of planning permission, the development can be complete by 2020.

A decision on the proposals is due on January 26.

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