Apple cleared to build $1B green energy data center in Ireland

After two years of delays, the data center has received the green light to proceed. It will represent one of the largest capital investments in the region, and is set to create 150 permanent jobs.

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On Thursday, Apple received permission to build a $1 billion data center in Ireland, after a two year planning delay, Reuters reported.

Apple first announced plans to build the data center in February 2015, in a rural area located in western Ireland that had green energy sources nearby. Although a local council granted Apple permission to plan six months later, a series of appeals and environmental concerns prevented the tech giant from starting construction.

But on Thursday, Ireland's High Court dismissed two separate appeals against the planning permission, allowing the data center planning process to begin again.

SEE: Download: IT Data Center Green Energy Policy (Tech Pro Research)

The data center will represent one of the largest capital investment projects in western Ireland, and will provide 300 construction jobs and 150 on-site permanent jobs, Reuters noted.

One in every 10 jobs in Ireland is created by foreign multinational companies like Apple, Reuters noted. Major investments such as data centers are a means of securing more positions in the area, according to the report.

However, while these data centers may bring the tech industry to rural areas, they often fail to provide many permanent jobs, or to greatly improve the local economy, experts say.

Still, data center growth shows no signs of slowing down: The industry is expected to double by 2021, due to massive increases in enterprise cloud adoption, according to a JLL report. And data center providers continue to spread across geographic locations to enhance reliability and speed, the report said.

In 2015, Apple had also announced plans to build a new data center in Denmark, which will begin operations later this year. The company recently announced that it will build a second data center in that country as well, Reuters noted.

Apple executives met with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in September, and reportedly told him that the company was frustrated with the planning and judicial delays, Reuters reported. The Irish government is now considering amending its planning laws to include certain data centers as strategic infrastructure, in order to push them through the planning process more quickly.

The move is a sign that tech companies may be cozying back up to Ireland after a court case against Microsoft, in which the Second Circuit ultimately held that Microsoft had no obligation to produce the government with customer emails stored on a server located in Ireland.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. After two years of delays, Apple on Thursday received permission to begin building a $1B data center in western Ireland.

2. The data center will represent one of the largest capital investment projects in western Ireland, and will provide 300 construction jobs and 150 on-site permanent jobs.

3. While data centers continue to spring up in rural areas across the globe, they often do not create as many jobs or have as large of an economic impact as expected, experts say.

Image: Apple

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