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Apple asked to ‘pool’ resources



Pool artist's impression of the proposed Apple site.

Ambitious proposals for a 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool for Athenry – which would be ‘driven’ by waste heat from Apple’s planned data centre – have been put to the tech giant.

The company has already committed to using renewable energy for its new facility – which is expected to begin operations in 2017 – and to any ‘green’ suggestions from the local community for its 500-acres site at Derrydonnell. Experts believe it would be possible to construct an aquatic centre – with at least a 50m swimming pool – using waste heat from a single ‘data hall’. Apple is understood to be planning at least eight halls for the Athenry site.

It’s understood that by recovering waste heat from the facility, the aquatic centre could save between €200,000 and €400,000 annually.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames described the proposal as exciting, and said she has already put queries to Apple and the IDA.

“This is an exciting proposal and a very positive idea. It would be excellent for the region,” she said.

John Stevens from Lisheenkyle East – who proposed the idea in the first instance – said: “An aquatic centre with at least a 50m swimming pool would possibly use a significant proportion of the waste heat from a single data hall, making it a viable option.

“The data centre is modular in design, with the construction of eight or more individual data halls, which are each self-contained, and to be built over a period of 10 years or so.

“Each data hall has its own electrical and ventilation system, and this would possible make the re-use of waste heat from just one hall very feasible.

“The design of the subsequent data halls need not be modified from existing plans, which are just using ambient air to cool the electronic equipment, and expel the waste heat back to the surrounding area.

“Another option, is to take heat from their second data hall, so this would not slow the construction of their first phase, which they want up and running by 2017.

“From what I understand, they are hoping to have all the planning applications completed in three to six months, and start construction very soon after that.

Energy Consultant Leo Corcoran explained that Apple’s Danish data centre is designed to provide secondary energy to the local district heating system.

“In the case of Athenry no existing infrastructure exists to utilise the available secondary energy.

“While a swimming pool is an option for absorbing secondary energy it is not an ideal application because the heat requirement for a swimming pool would be a tiny fraction of the heat available from the data centre.

“However, if there is a requirement for a 50m pool in the area, and provided the economics of the pool are proven, there is good logic for locating it close to the data centre, if Apple are willing to design their energy system to facilitate heat recovery, the swimming pool would use a small amount of available secondary energy but it would improve the environment credentials of Apple and its commitment to Corporate and Social Responsibility.”

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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