Irish Wind Farm to Share Onshore Substation with Data Centre

SSE Renewables and Irish-owned data centre owner and operator, Echelon Data Centres have agreed to develop a joint 220kV substation at the Avoca River Business Park in Arklow, Ireland.

The new infrastructure will facilitate the development of Ireland’s first large-scale offshore wind farm, Arklow Bank, off the coast of Co. Wicklow with an export capacity of 520 MW, and Echelon’s DUB20 (Arklow) 100 MW data centre.

The substation would be developed and constructed on behalf of both developers by SSE Renewables. The development of the substation for joint use will be subject to SSE Renewables securing planning permission via a future planning application.

The joint initiative marks the first time in Ireland that an offshore wind farm and a data centre have agreed to develop grid infrastructure.

The substation development is expected to require an investment of around EUR 50 million to deliver. Upon completion, the proposed offshore wind farm and data centre will both directly connect to the Irish national grid via the new shared substation.

Sharing grid infrastructure and locating data centres closer to renewable sources of generation such as offshore wind delivers on a key decarbonisation goal set out in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan to facilitate regionally-located data centres and minimise grid reinforcements, SSE said.

It also helps deliver a Climate Action Plan target of installing 1 GW of offshore wind by 2025.

The development agreement will support the delivery of 250 new jobs for Arklow. This includes the creation of up to 80 new jobs during the construction of the substation.

Upon completion of both the technology and renewable energy projects, the data centre will support 90 full-time operational roles while a further 80 full-time jobs will be created locally to support the day-to-day operation of the offshore wind farm.

“This collaboration between renewable energy and tech will ensure that key decarbonisation targets contained in the Climate Action Plan are met and is a model which could be rolled out in other communities across the country,” An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said.

“I would like to pay tribute to SSE Renewables and Echelon – having identified an opportunity to share infrastructure to promote sustainability, they worked collaboratively to ensure their vision became a reality.”

SSE Renewables is actively developing Phase 2 of Arklow Bank Wind Park which will be located in a lease area situated six to 13 kilometres off Ireland’s Co. Wicklow coastline, to the east of Arklow.

Arklow Bank is the most advanced Irish offshore wind project, aiming to b commissioned by 2025 under Ireland’s Foreshore Act.

“This is a major innovation for the integration of renewables and data centres into Ireland’s national grid,” Barry Kilcline, Director of Developments at SSE Renewables said.

”Through this landmark agreement with Echelon Data Centres we will develop new shared grid infrastructure at Arklow that will facilitate the development of the next phase of the 520MW Arklow Bank Wind Park, which we’re on track to deliver to help meet the Government’s 2025 target of 1GW of offshore wind, and to enable the connection of Echelon’s planned data centre for South Wicklow.”

SSE also co-developed the 7-turbine 25 MW Arklow Bank Phase 1 with GE Energy in 2004 as a demonstrator project to prove the opportunity that offshore wind energy could represent for Ireland. The Arklow Bank Phase 1 is Ireland’s first and only operating offshore wind farm.