Amazon to buy entire output from Donegal wind farm

Updated / Monday, 8 Apr 2019 16:31

When built the Meenbog wind farm will produce 91MW of power (Pic: Getty)

By Will Goodbody

Tech giant Amazon has announced a deal to buy all the energy produced by a new wind farm to be built in Co Donegal.

The facility will generate over 91 Megawatts of power when it is completed and operational by the end of 2021 at the latest.

The electricity will be used to supply the company's Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centres here in Ireland, which provide cloud based services to businesses all over the world.

Invis Energy will develop the facility at Meenbog, and it will be done without any public subsidies, according to Amazon, meaning it won't be subject to the public service obligation levy.

This, the company says, will make it the the first unsubsidised Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) project in Ireland.

An Bord Pleanala's decision to approve planning permission for the Donegal development was the subject last year of a High Court application for judicial review from birds of prey conservation organisation, the Irish Raptor Study Group.

However, the matter was later settled out of court and never went to full hearing.

In a statement, Amazon Web Service said, "the developer has secured all necessary permits required to build and operate the wind farm".

The company would not disclose how much the contract is worth.

The deal will help move Amazon Web Services closer to meeting its target of having all its energy needs globally met by renewables.

Last year it reached the half way point towards achieving that aim.

Data centres require considerable amounts of power to operate, with the running of servers and other infrastructure and the cooling of the centres a big drain on energy.

Among the objections to Apple's failed data centre project in Athenry was that the facility would draw excessive amounts of electricity.

EirGrid predicts that data centres could account for approximately one quarter of all electricity demand in Ireland by 2027.

Amazon Web Services also revealed today that it will buy 91 Megawatts of power from a wind farm in Bäckhammar, Sweden and 47 Megawatts from another in Tehachapi, California, with both generating by the end of next year.

It already has a further six solar plants and three wind farms in the US.

In total, Amazon has enabled 53 wind and solar projects worldwide, which produce more than 1,016 MW.

The Donegal deal has been welcomed by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

"By 2030, 70 percent of Ireland's electricity will come from renewable sources," said Richard Bruton.

"Today that figure is at 30 percent. We must step up our ambition across the board. Projects led by the corporate sector will be a crucial part of our overall plan to deliver on this target."

"This announcement by Amazon is a landmark deal in Ireland, the first such corporate agreement in our country to provide unsubsidised renewable energy."

Last year AWS announced it would double its workforce here over two years, adding a further 1,000 jobs.