Social media giant Facebook have announced the construction of a data center in Clonee, Co. Meath, that will create 2,000 temporary construction jobs for Ireland.
The $220 million (€200 million) data center is also expected to create 150 long-term positions for the Irish job pool once the center is in operation.
The is Facebook’s sixth data center worldwide and the company’s second in Europe, after Luleå in Sweden. The Irish site will be modeled after this first European center.
The 31,000 sq.m facility was initially granted planning permission by Meath County Council in July 2015 but appeals made by local residents to An Bord Pleanála (Ireland’s planning board) meant the site was only officially granted permission last October a final decision made by Facebook earlier this week.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement via his own Facebook page stating that the company were happy to continue their relationship with Ireland and further their investment in Europe. Dublin has played host to Facebook’s international headquarter since 2009.
“We’re glad to be investing in Ireland, to become a part of the Clonee community, and to continue building the massive infrastructure that connects our global community,” Zuckerberg said in his post.
He also said that the center would be one of the most advanced and energy efficient data centers in the world, taking advantage of Ireland’s wind energy to run 100 per cent on renewable energy.
The company aims to power 50 percent of their worldwide infrastructure with renewable energy by the end of 2018.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, data centers are currently one of the largest and fastest growing consumers of electricity in the United States. In 2013, they consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, equal to that consumed by 34 large coal-fired power plants.
“Clonee will be packed full of cutting-edge technology, making it one of the most advanced, efficient, and sustainable data centers in the world,” said Tom Furlong, Facebook’s VP for site operations.
“All the racks, servers, and other components have been designed and built from scratch as part of the Open Compute Project, an industry-wide coalition of companies dedicated to creating energy- and cost-efficient infrastructure solutions and sharing them as open source.”
Due to its proximity to the Irish Sea, the cooling process used at the center will need a special filter system to extract salt from the air.
"One interesting engineering detail is that we’re cooling the facility with outdoor air, but because this is near the Irish Sea we’ll be using an indirect air cooling process to filter the salt from the air," said Zuckerberg.
Following his post, some questioned why the data center could not be built in the US.
Zuckerberg stressed that while they already have four data centers in the US, it is important to establish new centers across the globe closer to the people Facebook are serving.
“Internet services connect at the speed of light. That is very fast, but if you live all the way around the world, it might mean introducing 0.1s or 0.2s of lag for every connection made,” he wrote.
“Since using our services often takes tens or hundreds of requests, putting data centers around the world adds up to a meaningfully better experience over time.”
The Irish center will handle data from more than a billion people who use the site globally.
The construction work on the greenfield site is set to commence by the end of this year and is scheduled to be completed by 2018 at the latest.