Floating data centre on Shannon gets green light

Floating data centre on Shannon gets green light

Plans for a €35m 'floating' data centre in Limerick's docklands area are set to proceed after opponents withdrew objections to planning approval for the project.

An Bord Pleanála has confirmed that an appeal by the Limerick Port Users Group against the decision of Limerick City and County Council to grant planning permission for the floating barge on the River Shannon has been withdrawn.

The plans by Shannon Foynes Port Company provide for a new floating data centre – the first of its kind in Europe – combined with the redevelopment of buildings at Ted Russell Dock in Limerick.

The data centre is being developed by US firm, Nautilus Data Technologies, which uses innovative water cooling technology to operate such facilities more efficiently and cheaper than similar land-based operations. The project is expected to create 24 permanent jobs as well as employing 100 people during the construction phase.

Shannon Foynes Port Company said the project was being developed as part of a regeneration programme for the area as Limerick docks had landside assets that were "surplus to traditional port needs".

It said water would be drawn from the Shannon and pass through a cooling process before being returned to the river about 90 seconds later "unchanged other than being slightly warmer".

The company said the change in temperature would be less than 2º Celsius which was well below any regulatory threshold.

It claimed Nautilus’ innovative water-cooling system was 80% more energy efficient than the industry average for large and medium data centres and would have 30% lower operating costs.

The Limerick Port Users Group, which represents almost 20 shipping firms and agents, had originally protested that the proposal for the floating barge was contrary to statutory planning policy which sets out to protect and grow shipping as the primary use for Ted Russell Dock.

The group claimed allowing the data centre to be located at a mooring facility would constrain the ability of the docks to accommodate long-term strategic growth in shipping services for the Limerick region.

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