Chief Executive Officer of Offaly County Council Anna Marie Delaney, with Cllr Frank Moran, then cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, with representatives of Siemens and the North Offaly Development Fund.

Offaly ready to rival European cities as green data centre hub: report

Offaly is well-placed to become a new global hub for data centres with the potential to create thousands of green jobs, according to a new report by technology company Siemens.

The study, commissioned by Offaly County Council, explores how Offaly could rival Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris in being an anchor for data centres powered by renewable energy.

Siemens outlined that data centre operators will consider the region, because of the simple access to reliable, renewable energy, the abundance of land for development, the moderate climate and strong supply of talent. Sites such as Rhode Green Energy Park have been identified as potential opportunities for data centres.

The business says that the continued growth of Europe's data centre capitals is becoming increasingly impacted by costs and concerns about energy. Power grid constraints in Dublin, for example, which is home to the majority of Ireland’s 75 data centres, may take up to 10 years to resolve. However, the spread of data centres in the remainder of Ireland is currently limited.

Joe Walsh, General Manager at Siemens Ireland, said: “The data centre industry is looking for new locations away from its traditional hubs and the Midlands of Ireland has huge potential.

“Through local investment to provide the right level of connectivity, and through collaboration in the industry’s supply chain, the region can provide the reliable, low-carbon sources of power generation required for data centre operators to meet their sustainability targets.

“This has the potential to create thousands of jobs, generate millions of Euros of investment to the region, all based on clean, green power, and catalyse Ireland’s transition to net zero.”

The council believes the report will help attract a data centre anchor tenant in the vicinity of Offaly’s Rhode Green Energy Park, which would be the first step in creating a thriving data centre sector. A large facility will typically create 250 permanent and 1,200 temporary jobs during construction and act as a catalyst for investment, according to the report.

Data centres could be, in part, powered by wind, solar or even green hydrogen from renewable sources, and any waste heat that is generated could be used to heat local homes, businesses, local industry and community buildings, according to the study. There are also opportunities for data centres to anchor investment by being lead tenants of eco-industrial parks alongside green energy enterprises.

Anna-Marie Delaney, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, said: “It’s clear there is significant potential to create a new data centre cluster here in the Irish Midlands.

“This report provides us with the foundations we need to attract operators from across the globe, deliver a business case to invest in our local infrastructure and create a more sustainable economy.

“I’m looking forward to working with our partners to investigate how we can make this a reality to create high-value jobs for local people and attract new local investment.“

The study was co-funded by the EU Just Transition Fund and North Offaly Development Fund (NODF). The North Offaly Development Fund is a community group with Rhode Green Energy Park as its flagship project.

Eugene Mulligan, Chair of NODF, said: “This report provides us with key insights and a strong evident based roadmap supporting economic diversification way from peat through green energy enterprise, leveraging the many emerging renewable energy projects emerging in Offaly.”

Researchers from Siemens interviewed leaders from the data centre sector, renewable energy infrastructure developers and government bodies to inform the report.

It lays out an action plan to attract investors, including promoting Offaly and the Midlands as 'open for data centre business' with regional strengths such as local renewable power sources that support increased sustainability.