Ireland is about to get a next-generation data center powered entirely by solid oxide fuel

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Ireland is set to house Europe’s first data center powered exclusively by fuel cells rather than a grid connection as part of a groundbreaking project.

Korean firm SK Ecoplant has signed a memorandum of understanding with Irish power generation and renewable energy company Lumcloon Energy, to build a data center powered by solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) in County Westmeath, around 50 miles west of Dublin.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s minister for enterprise, trade and employment, described the deal as “strategically very important” and said the data center could become a template for others in future.

There are no details on the size of the proposed project, or a time scale for it to become operational. However, Kyung-il Park, CEO of SK Ecoplant, said the partnership will create the groundwork for the company to offer green energy solutions in data center operations. 

Fuel cells, SK Ecoplant said, offer decentralized urban power generation, offering high-efficiency electricity production on compact sites. 

They work by oxidizing fuel to produce electricity. Different types use different materials as the electrolyte, with SOFCs based on a solid oxide or ceramic electrolyte. 

Different fuels can also be used, including natural gas, renewable biogas, coal gas, or hydrogen.

While details of the project remain unclear, Coveny indicated that the fuel cells are likely to use gas initially before a possible future move to hydrogen.

Data centers require a stable and efficient power supply round the clock. And according to Ireland’s national utility, Eirgrid, they accounted for around 18% of the country’s electricity generation last year - a figure that is expected to rise to 30% by 2028.


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Ireland is a popular site for data centers thanks to its cool climate and comparatively low electricity costs, and Dublin is already home to more than 60 data centers, including facilities owned by Google, Amazon, and Meta.

After a series of amber alerts over problems with energy supply, EirGrid last year said it would not supply new data centers in Dublin for ‘the foreseeable future’ and possibly not until 2028. 

Meanwhile, the Irish government also plans to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.