Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to support Ireland in meeting its 2030 renewable energy targets through the country’s first, custom-built sustainable solution to provide low-carbon heat to a growing Dublin suburb.The new District Heating Scheme in Tallaght, South Dublin, will provide heat recycled from the recently-completed AWS data centre to public sector, residential, and commercial customers. The system will initially heat 47,000 m2 of public sector buildings – an area three times the size of the city’s Croke Park stadium pitch – as well as 3,000m2 of commercial space and 135 affordable rental apartments. This is projected to save 1,500 tonnes of carbon per annum during the first phase of the Tallaght District Heating Scheme, the equivalent of a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.

South Dublin County Council (SDCC) has established Ireland’s first publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company, which has commissioned Fortum, an experienced Finnish energy supply company, to carry out the design, installation, and operation of the scheme. AWS will provide recycled heat free of charge to the scheme which, when combined with additional heat pump technology, will be sold on to end users at low cost by the district heating company, trading as Heatworks.

Low cost, low carbon

The collaboration between AWS engineering teams, Fortum, SDCC, and City of Dublin Energy Management Agency has resulted in a low-carbon solution utilising recycled heat from a data centre – the first example of its kind in Ireland.The supply of low-cost, low-carbon heat is also expected to attract innovative businesses and development to Tallaght town centre, facilitate educational programmes and start-up opportunities in renewable energy solutions, as well as helping to mitigate fuel poverty as the heat network expands over time.

“The Tallaght Scheme shows how public-private collaboration using well-established district-heating technology can harness the significant recyclable-heat resource of AWS data centres,” explained Eddie Conroy, County Architect for SDCC. “This project will meaningfully contribute to helping Ireland achieve its 2030 sustainability targets, and we look forward to future collaborations with AWS towards a low-carbon future in South Dublin.”

“We are pleased that our data centre in Tallaght offered a unique opportunity to reuse heat and provide it to the local community. We are committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet, and being net zero carbon by 2040. It’s a win-win when we can identify a special project that uses our infrastructure to support the climate goals of the community,” said Kenneth Matthews, Head of Energy, EMEA, Amazon Web Services.

The project will begin supplying heat within the next 12 months. Initial customers will be South Dublin County Council and the nearby Tallaght campus of the Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). The council buildings heated by this project in the short term will include South Dublin County Hall, Tallaght County Library, arts hub RUA RED and the Civic Theatre.

In the coming years, the heat will also be supplied to nearby developments now approved with planning permission, including affordable housing, residential properties and student accommodation.

Building a sustainable future in Ireland

Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge – a commitment to achieve net zero carbon across our business by 2040 – ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As part of that goal, we are on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Amazon recently announced 26 new utility-scale wind and solar energy projects, bringing its total renewable energy in 2020 to 35 projects and more than 4 GW of capacity globally – the largest corporate investment in renewable energy in a single year. These new projects will make Amazon the largest-ever corporate purchaser of renewable energy.

In Ireland, innovations and investments to help achieve these goals include a new 115-megawatt (MW) wind farm project in County Galway which will begin operating in 2022 and will support AWS data centres in the country.The project in County Galway adds to two existing utility-scale renewable energy projects the company has already announced in Ireland in County Cork and County Donegal. In total, these wind farms are projected to add 229 MW of renewable energy to the Irish grid each year, reducing carbon emissions by 366,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, and producing enough renewable energy to power 185,000 Irish homes per year – more than one tenth of all homes in Ireland.

Reducing water and energy use in AWS data centres

AWS is also innovating to preserve water and reduce energy usage in its data centres worldwide, including in Ireland.

To reduce both energy and water use in its data centres, the company uses direct evaporative cooling systems, which predominately utilise outside air to cool servers. This means that for more than 95% of the year, AWS uses no water to cool its data centres in Ireland.

Thanks to this innovative cooling solution, the newest AWS data centre designs use as little as 1,000m3 of water for cooling annually per data centre. That’s equivalent to the yearly water usage of just eight average Irish households.

New facilities are also fitted with roofing designed to harvest rainwater, offsetting the water used from the local supply. The company’s goal is to be able to cool its data centres without taking any water from the local supply.

In addition, AWS is enabling its customers to support their own sustainability goals by moving to the cloud. A recent study by 451 Research found AWS data centres to be 3.6 times more energy efficient than traditional alternatives, achieving an 88% reduction in carbon footprint when workloads are moved from on-premises data centres to AWS.

Committed to Ireland

Amazon recently announced plans to create 1,000 permanent jobs in Ireland over the next two years – bringing its total permanent workforce in the country to 5,000 people. The new, highly skilled roles will be based in locations across the company’s Cork and Dublin sites in Blanchardstown, Tallaght, the city centre, and north County Dublin.

The company is also planning a new campus for AWS at Charlemont Square, which will open in 2022.

AWS has strong links with local communities in Ireland in the areas around its data centres and offices. This includes offering local people the opportunity to learn the skills they’ll need to begin a career in data centres and cloud computing through the Data Centre Technician training course with the Technical University (TU) in Tallaght, South Dublin, supporting digital skills events for young people, and helping to organize the Irish Homeless Street League (IHSL) All Ireland Final.

Find out more about The Climate Pledge