Microsoft has made the strategic decision to construct its own power plant to ensure the continuous operation of its €900 million datacenter development outside Dublin. Recently, the tech giant obtained approval to utilise a private gas-powered power plant adjacent to its datacenters in Dublin’s Grange Castle Business Park.
This specialised plant has the impressive capacity to generate 170 megawatts of power through 22 generators, and its construction came at an estimated cost of around €100 million. The primary purpose of the plant is to provide power during periods when the national grid cannot meet the demands of Microsoft’s datacenters.
To enhance energy stability and mitigate fluctuations in the power supply, Microsoft is collaborating with industry leader Eaton to feed energy back to the grid. However, it’s important to note that the excess power generated by the gas plant will not be exported. As confirmed by Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency, the gas engines and generators will be exclusively used for powering the installation.
Additionally, in contingency situations where the gas plant may experience failure, Microsoft has been granted permission to utilise more than 150 diesel generators at the site, ensuring continued datacenter operations.
Unlike natural gas generators, fuel cells generate electricity without combustion. However, both generate carbon dioxide as a by-product unless clean fuels, such as hydrogen, are employed. Fuel cells can be converted to run on a 50/50 mix of hydrogen and natural gas or upgraded to run entirely on green hydrogen.
This raises a big red flag considering Microsoft’s earlier sustainability pledge to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy sources by 2025, and to be carbon negative by 2030.