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Apple Data Centre Athenry = Middle of Nowhere.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,247 ✭✭✭Greaney


    The reason is, that the campus when all eight are built will be huge. The forest in Derry Donnell is just under 200ha. The impact will be profound and if done bit by bit, it will underplay the environmental effects. I'm assuming the whole project is the masterplan, because that (eight data halls) was what was

    1) presented to the community as the project.
    2) the basis for the site choice
    3) here to fore, been consistently communicated as the end project, both regarding buildings and job numbers.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,113 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox


    Greaney wrote: »
    The reason is, that the campus when all eight are built will be huge. The forest in Derry Donnell is just under 200ha. The impact will be profound and if done bit by bit, it will underplay the environmental effects. I'm assuming the whole project is the masterplan, because that (eight data halls) was what was

    1) presented to the community as the project.
    2) the basis for the site choice
    3) here to fore, been consistently communicated as the end project, both regarding buildings and job numbers.

    Yeah, but that's not what was applied for. They applied to build one, not eight. ABP even said that the way that Apple went about this was totally normal, and is done all over the country already.

    I also fail to see why the EIA would under play the effects when each new one has to reference the older ones.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,050 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl


    Eirgrid have been doing similar recently on another project I've seen - breaking it down to much smaller chunks to get through planning.

    They start by saying "just expanding to clean up the site layout", then follow with the next phase saying "industrial infrastructure exists on site, so minimal EIS necessary" etc.

    It's an abuse of the planning system alright: the EIS should evaluate the site as a whole as opposed to the marginal increases, but they get away with just EIS on the marginal increases.

    Edit: Further detail added.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,247 ✭✭✭Greaney


    CatInABox wrote: »
    Yeah, but that's not what was applied for. They applied to build one, not eight. ABP even said that the way that Apple went about this was totally normal, and is done all over the country already.

    I also fail to see why the EIA would under play the effects when each new one has to reference the older ones.

    Exactly, that's what the fuss is about. They're applying to build one.... but they will be building eight. Is this legal slight of hand, to play down the effects of project, and that's why it's in front of the courts. The EIA may not have to reference previous projects, they may just have to start as a baseline where the other data centre finished. We don't have a crystal ball and we know the government etc. are loving data centres at the moment, so they might just bend the rules as the project rolls along.

    In fairness... would the country even know what was going on with our resources if folk didn't stand up to shine a light on it? Our grid needs huge investment and I don't expect the tech multi-nationals will be asked to pay for their fair share. If they did.... that'd be another story.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,072 ✭✭✭plodder


    Eirgrid have been doing similar recently on another project I've seen - breaking it down to much smaller chunks to get through planning.

    They start by saying "just expanding to clean up the site layout", then follow with the next phase saying "industrial infrastructure exists on site, so minimal EIS necessary" etc.

    It's an abuse of the planning system alright: the EIS should evaluate the site as a whole as opposed to the marginal increases, but they get away with just EIS on the marginal increases.

    Edit: Further detail added.
    IMO, an abuse occurs when you apply for something piecemeal, when the initial application isn't buildable standalone or there isn't an intention to build it standalone. There clearly was an intention in this case.

    Nobody can say that Apple were definitely going to build 8 halls. They were simply planning for the possibility and assuming demand for the services developed as projected. In the end, they didn't need to build even one. There are always contingency plans and alternatives. Denmark happens to have a more rational and sensible planning system than us (or more to the point, a less litigious and more sensible citizenry :) ) It's a joke that it is still being litigated long after the project was cancelled.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    plodder wrote: »
    An abuse occurs when you apply for something piecemeal, when the initial application isn't buildable standalone or there isn't an intention to build it standalone. There clearly was an intention in this case.

    Nobody can say that Apple were definitely going to build 8 halls. They were simply planning for the possibility and assuming demand for the services developed as projected. In the end, they didn't need to build even one. There are always contingency plans and alternatives. Denmark happens to have a more rational and sensible planning system than us. It's a joke that it is still being litigated long after the project was cancelled.

    A good comparison is with Facebook in Clonee. The intial planning was for two 'Data Halls' (eg. Data centers in their own right with central mgmt spine). They currently are constructing the third hall and numbers 4 and 5 are in planning:

    Clonee.png

    Of course there is no guarantee that Meath County Council will give them planning on 4 and 5 (though I imagine that's unlikely), but likewise when they first floated the idea they emphasised that setup was just for the first two, with possibility of future extension subject to planning.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,113 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox


    Greaney wrote: »
    Exactly, that's what the fuss is about. They're applying to build one.... but they will be building eight. Is this legal slight of hand, to play down the effects of project, and that's why it's in front of the courts. The EIA may not have to reference previous projects, they may just have to start as a baseline where the other data centre finished. We don't have a crystal ball and we know the government etc. are loving data centres at the moment, so they might just bend the rules as the project rolls along.

    In fairness... would the country even know what was going on with our resources if folk didn't stand up to shine a light on it? Our grid needs huge investment and I don't expect the tech multi-nationals will be asked to pay for their fair share. If they did.... that'd be another story.

    Well, they won't be building anything actually. Even so, you can't know if they were actually going to build eight, which is the point that ABP were making. It may have been in the masterplan, but that may have been subject to various different requirements, demand, etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,548 ✭✭✭SeanW


    DaCor wrote: »
    Supreme Court told planning law “radically misapplied” in Apple Athenry case

    The law was “radically misapplied” by An Bord Plean when they gave the go ahead for Apple to build an €850 million date centre in Athenry the Supreme Court has been told.
    While Apple has decided to give up its plans for a data centre in Athenry after the project spent years in legal limbo, the Supreme Court is still hearing two objectors’ case.

    The central part of the objection has always been whether An Bord Plean was obliged to consider the environmental impact of eight data halls, Apple’s masterplan for the site, instead of just the one hall which was contained in the application

    Full story here - https://www.galwaydaily.com/news/supreme-court-told-planning-law-radically-misapplied-in-apple-athenry-case/
    This is the kind of stuff that makes my blood boil. The poxy twits who bogged this down in objections won. The billion euro investment in the West? Gone. Hundreds of jobs - outside main cities where they are desperately needed? Gone. They wanted to stick a knife in the backs of rural people who would have benefited and they succeeded. What the hell are they still suing for?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,247 ✭✭✭Greaney


    Well, for a start they live near there, in fact, there were more who live near it, who had gone as far as judicial review. It's not as simple as it seems...


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,072 ✭✭✭plodder


    Greaney wrote: »
    Well, for a start they live near there, in fact, there were more who live near it, who had gone as far as judicial review. It's not as simple as it seems...
    One lived quite a long way away from it. Wicklow, if I'm not mistaken..


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭4ensic15


    SeanW wrote: »
    This is the kind of stuff that makes my blood boil. The poxy twits who bogged this down in objections won. The billion euro investment in the West? Gone. Hundreds of jobs - outside main cities where they are desperately needed? Gone. They wanted to stick a knife in the backs of rural people who would have benefited and they succeeded. What the hell are they still suing for?

    The hundreds of jobs would only be during the construction phase. There would be very few jobs when the centre is running. The impact on the national grid would be enormous. When the data centres become redundant in a few years those places will be white elephants.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,072 ✭✭✭plodder


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    The hundreds of jobs would only be during the construction phase. There would be very few jobs when the centre is running. The impact on the national grid would be enormous. When the data centres become redundant in a few years those places will be white elephants.
    I'm still wondering what development is going to make these data centres redundant "in a few years". It's true there would potentially be a big impact on the grid, but it seems to me, that that should be a matter of discussion at national/government level and not something that is decided by the actions of individual objectors. Like why should Clonee be allowed to have a project like this, but not Athenry?


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,224 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    The hundreds of jobs would only be during the construction phase. There would be very few jobs when the centre is running. The impact on the national grid would be enormous. When the data centres become redundant in a few years those places will be white elephants.

    How would data centers ever become redundant!!! They are here to stay for the long term. The servers in them do change constantly, get upgraded, etc. but the physical infrastructure doesn't change much, the building, the UPS, the cooling systems, the power supplies, etc.

    What do you think makes the internet work, magic fairy dust!

    Ironically this site you are posting on is hosted in a data center and pretty much every single website or service you use on your phone or laptop passes through a data center.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,205 ✭✭✭markpb


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    The hundreds of jobs would only be during the construction phase. There would be very few jobs when the centre is running. The impact on the national grid would be enormous. When the data centres become redundant in a few years those places will be white elephants.

    Buildings become redundant all the time. It's not a reason not to build them. If I look out my window at work, I can see two office buildings being extensively refurbished and two old warehouses being demolished to make way for new offices and apartments. This happens all the time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,629 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78


    We do have to ask ourselves, is a relatively low job creator and a relatively high energy use facility the way forward for Ireland?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,239 ✭✭✭Pussyhands


    bk wrote: »
    How would data centers ever become redundant!!! They are here to stay for the long term. The servers in them do change constantly, get upgraded, etc. but the physical infrastructure doesn't change much, the building, the UPS, the cooling systems, the power supplies, etc.

    What do you think makes the internet work, magic fairy dust!

    Ironically this site you are posting on is hosted in a data center and pretty much every single website or service you use on your phone or laptop passes through a data center.

    Stupid question off topic but does that mean all data is stored there? What isn't located there? What if someone bombed the data centre, would all data be lost or would boards for example have it backed up on multiple different DCs?


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭4ensic15


    bk wrote: »
    How would data centers ever become redundant!!! Th.

    Moore's law.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,072 ✭✭✭plodder


    Wanderer78 wrote: »
    We do have to ask ourselves, is a relatively low job creator and a relatively high energy use facility the way forward for Ireland?
    We're not likely to get a good answer out of a process driven by people who just don't want it in their backyard and someone else who just wanted it built somewhere else.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    The hundreds of jobs would only be during the construction phase. There would be very few jobs when the centre is running. The impact on the national grid would be enormous. When the data centres become redundant in a few years those places will be white elephants.

    I'm sorry but how do Data Centers become redudant? Is that you think they will suddenly migrate to the mythical 'Cloud' ? Newsflash the Data Centers are the actual Cloud.

    What people seem to be missing is the Corporate tax accruing due to presence of DC's for the big cloud providers. Think about it if you are "buying time" (Time-sharing of the 1960's and 70's basically) on Amazon AWS in Europe you are most likely to use AWS Dublin region (there is Frankfurt but Dublin is preferred). Your Virtual machines (eg. virtualised computers running a OS and Software stack) will be sitting on servers in Dublin, every billable minute will be a service provided out of Ireland. ergo the likes of the French goverenment can't claim a slice of corporation tax due as the service is completely running in Ireland (CPU time, data storage usage, heck even bulk of Network connectivity).

    In case of Apple it's even simpler, if you pay a monthly fee for iCloud space + iTunes etc and your data is stored in DC's in Ireland then the serviced been offered is actually an export from Ireland and not the old trick where the physical device was sold by 'Apple France' (but manufactured in China) but billed to 'Apple Ireland'.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    Pussyhands wrote: »
    Stupid question off topic but does that mean all data is stored there? What isn't located there? What if someone bombed the data centre, would all data be lost or would boards for example have it backed up on multiple different DCs?

    Usually with large either Enterprise DC providers or 'Cloud providers' you have high end Disaster Recovery/High Availability in place. So for example:
    auto-migration of data between DC's. or for example in case of something like boards you would have multiple backend Databases in a multi-master configuration (one per site).

    In AWS for example you can configure/pay for redudant setup where your instances are 'striped' across at least two 'AWS regions' (lets say Dublin and Frankfurt). If the primary instance (lets say Dublin) goes down either due to DC issue/connectivity etc the system can auto-fail over to Frankfurt with minimum outage.


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,224 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    Moore's law.

    Oh god :rolleyes:

    As I mentioned you do constantly upgrade the servers within the data center, that is where Moores Law comes in, new server with faster CPU's which can do more units of work faster and at a lower energy use (per unit of work).

    But you still need somewhere for those servers and storage appliances and that is called a data center.

    While Moores law increases computational power, the demand for increased internet services has vastly outstripped the ability for Moores law to keep up and it is why all the major internet companies are scrambling to build lots of data centers.

    As an aside, you might be interested to hear that the growth rate as predicted by Moores Law started slowing down in 2012 and continues to fall. From wiki:
    Moore's law is an observation and projection of a historical trend and not a physical or natural law. Although the rate held steady from 1975 until around 2012, the rate was faster during the first decade. In general, it is not logically sound to extrapolate from the historical growth rate into the indefinite future.

    Data centers aren't going anywhere.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,113 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox


    plodder wrote: »
    I'm still wondering what development is going to make these data centres redundant "in a few years". It's true there would potentially be a big impact on the grid, but it seems to me, that that should be a matter of discussion at national/government level and not something that is decided by the actions of individual objectors. Like why should Clonee be allowed to have a project like this, but not Athenry?

    The electricity market in Ireland operates on supply and demand. If there's more demand, then companies will increase supply. If apple actually built all eight data centres, by the time that they are finished building, more windfarms and power plants will have come online to service the demand.

    That's how it's worked for the last 80 years or so, so I'm totally confused by the objections. What's more, Apple committed to 100% renewable, as they have worldwide, and are willing to pay more for it too. This data centre would have 100% resulted in more renewable electricity in Ireland, unless of course, people objected to those too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,629 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78


    CatInABox wrote: »
    The electricity market in Ireland operates on supply and demand. If there's more demand, then companies will increase supply. If apple actually built all eight data centres, by the time that they are finished building, more windfarms and power plants will have come online to service the demand.

    That's how it's worked for the last 80 years or so, so I'm totally confused by the objections. What's more, Apple committed to 100% renewable, as they have worldwide, and are willing to pay more for it too. This data centre would have 100% resulted in more renewable electricity in Ireland, unless of course, people objected to those too.

    always be wary of the workings of 'supply and demand', and large corporations for that matter, as they dont seem to truly work they way we think they do in reality.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,050 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl


    bk wrote: »

    Data centers aren't going anywhere.

    I think this is all fine and reasonable, but there are two big points as I see it:
    1: The planning process here was abused by people simply "frustrating" the applicant until they went away.
    2: The planning process here was abused by the applicant "splitting" the project into smaller projects.

    It'd be great to see our planning process improved to the point where projects are approved quickly with tougher and clearer conditions and an iterative review of compliance with same, so that everybody's concerns are addressed. At the moment it's kind of all-or-nothing, possibly because nobody really polices the planning conditions afterwards. The EIS is usually only done once.

    I have some familiarity with a project where this is/was also the case, so I can see it from both sides. A site not zoned for industrial use gets planning for a minor strategic industrial facility, none of the planning conditions are enforced, site expands, it causes environmental and social problems, the next planning is approved based on the previous facility's approval and in the end a large industrial facility is built with no benefit to locals with some downsides for locals and they strive to frustrate any future planning applications.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,072 ✭✭✭plodder


    CatInABox wrote: »
    The electricity market in Ireland operates on supply and demand. If there's more demand, then companies will increase supply. If apple actually built all eight data centres, by the time that they are finished building, more windfarms and power plants will have come online to service the demand.

    That's how it's worked for the last 80 years or so, so I'm totally confused by the objections. What's more, Apple committed to 100% renewable, as they have worldwide, and are willing to pay more for it too. This data centre would have 100% resulted in more renewable electricity in Ireland, unless of course, people objected to those too.
    I think the bigger issue is that we are investing a lot of money and land resources on renewable (wind) energy and the question is does it make sense to divert that investment towards data centres which at the end of the day, won't employ that many people. Personally, I don't know the answer to the question. But, I do support investment in wind energy. It might be more transparent if future data centres were required to have wind farms on site or within 5 km for example.

    But, none of the above is a good reason why the Athenry project shouldn't have gone ahead because no such policy exists today. By all means review the situation and create a new policy, but by the present rules, Athenry should have gone ahead imo. I can't understand how the courts have allowed this to happen. The splitting argument is total nonsense as far as I'm concerned.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    CatInABox wrote: »
    The electricity market in Ireland operates on supply and demand. If there's more demand, then companies will increase supply. If apple actually built all eight data centres, by the time that they are finished building, more windfarms and power plants will have come online to service the demand.

    That's how it's worked for the last 80 years or so, so I'm totally confused by the objections. What's more, Apple committed to 100% renewable, as they have worldwide, and are willing to pay more for it too. This data centre would have 100% resulted in more renewable electricity in Ireland, unless of course, people objected to those too.

    Given the contuined fall in cost of photovoltaic cells (as well as increased efficency), it wouldn't surprise me that in the future that large 'Hyperscale' Datacenters like what Facebook have built and what Apple proposed will have to include both Photovaltic cells on their roofs (in space not taken up by HVAC) as well as contained Grid connected battery storage (akin to what Telsa has been selling).

    We know that ESB and Bord na Móna are talking about installing 570MW of solar on 4 cut away bogs over the next couple of years. If you factor in proper storage solution this should allow for complete closure of BnM turf fired stations (which ties in with their announcements of redundancies in Turf harvesting).

    I imagine that a number of large Hyperscale DC's operators would be more then willing to enter multi-year agreement for Solar at a guaranteed unit price, if so this would make it considerably easier for ESB/BnM to raise relevant funding through bond sales etc.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,224 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk


    The power generation argument is such nonsense.

    Electricity usage and thus generation has fallen quiet a bit over the last few years, that is why the ESB and others have been shutting a number of power plants over the last few years.

    The amount of CO2 generated per gigawatt of power has halved in the past 20 years alone and it will continue to fall.

    Just yesterday Bord Na Mona announced the laying off of a 1,000 people over the next few years as the demand for peat falls and the two peat powered plants close or get converted to biofuel. These peat plants were the dirtiest.

    The ESB just this year fully wrote off the cost of Moneypoint, our last goal burning plant. The 1.2 billion plant is now worthless and it is expected to close by 2025, just 7 years from now.

    Why is all of this happening, it is because wind and solar have gotten so cheap, along with "cleaner" gas, that peat, coal and oil simply can't economically compete anymore. Our grid is going clean.

    Apple have already reached 100% renewable energy use at all their offices and data centers. This new one would have been no different.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,606 ✭✭✭gctest50


    Might be an ideal place for nuclear plant


  • Registered Users Posts: 607 ✭✭✭Neworder79




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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,050 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl


    bk wrote: »
    The power generation argument is such nonsense.

    Electricity usage and thus generation has fallen quiet a bit over the last few years, that is why the ESB and others have been shutting a number of power plants over the last few years.

    The amount of CO2 generated per gigawatt of power has halved in the past 20 years alone and it will continue to fall.

    Just yesterday Bord Na Mona announced the laying off of a 1,000 people over the next few years as the demand for peat falls and the two peat powered plants close or get converted to biofuel. These peat plants were the dirtiest.

    The ESB just this year fully wrote off the cost of Moneypoint, our last goal burning plant. The 1.2 billion plant is now worthless and it is expected to close by 2025, just 7 years from now.

    Why is all of this happening, it is because wind and solar have gotten so cheap, along with "cleaner" gas, that peat, coal and oil simply can't economically compete anymore. Our grid is going clean.

    Apple have already reached 100% renewable energy use at all their offices and data centers. This new one would have been no different.


    I'm not entirely sure that you're right here on a good few points.

    I believe our energy consumption is still increasing significantly. We're bringing wind online at a good rate. The reasons for writing off coal and peat is because the plants are slow to start up and big polluters in a no-load situation. They want more gas to balance the wind. The reality is that wind and solar can't yet compete with non-renewables unfortunately, so what we've done (rightly IMO) is artificially inflate the cost of the non-renewables so that the renewables can compete. We're now at a point where our grid is badly balanced because of the amount of wind, so some of the turbines and farms are being paid to produce but not actually connected to the grid. Similar problems faced by the duck curve in California. And that's why we want the 400kV line to France.


    Anyway, the general gist of what you're writing is "coal and peat are bad, wind and solar are good" and that's the main thing.

    I'm not sure how exactly Apple can claim 100% renewable offices, just taking the Irish situation as an example. It's a very creative/selective statement of energy usage. If it's not windy in Ireland then they're by definition using something else: on the balance of things they're possibly supplying a lot of renewable power to the grid, probably enough to balance their own load, but there are certainly days when they're using non-renewable energy.


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