Under normal circumstances the state’s industrial planners ought to be seeing red over the weekend scoop by the Business Post revealing the shelving of plans to move the production of microchips to Ireland by Intel.
Originally in contention with Poland and Germany, Ireland lost out owing to ongoing concerns as to the future viability of our energy and water grid as well as the habitual headwreck of the Irish planning process.
Able to potentially employ 10,000, the move raises some ominous questions as to the long term feasibility of the state’s economic prospects amid a world of increasing resource constraints.
Seeking to augment microchip production, the potential Leixlip expansion would have seen the construction of two ‘mega fab’ foundries near its Leixlip facility.
If fully actualised the facility would have consumed the equivalent amount of water and energy as the entirety of Cork City, with the IDA allegedly offering the manufacturing titan an alternative site near Oranmore Galway due to the stress being put on the local grid in Kildare.
Already one of the largest consumers of water and power in the state, Intel recently announced plans to develop a new 220 kilovolt (kV) electricity substation with perpetual horsetrading between the American multinational and Eirgrid as to the sharing of costs.
With Eirgird expecting a tenfold increase from large energy users like Intel by 2027, amid rumours over the potential of electricity cuts later last year Minister Eamon Ryan made it clear that the state electricity grid will not be able to pick up the tab on Intel’s inordinate consumption.
Employing 4,500 people directly in the manufacture of microprocessors primarily out of its Leixlip site, Intel is generally regarded as the crown jewel in Irish industrial policy with criticism often raised as to its one sided relationship it has with state bodies such as the IDA or Eirgrid.
While the kibosh was put on the expansion plans this weekend, previous to this in 2019 the prospects for the move were seemingly bright according to ‘official circles’ speaking to the Irish Times.
While the legal battle between farmer Thomas Reid and Intel has entered local folklore, the fact the multinational has seemingly outpaced energy supply here hints at the false economy of this type of national development as a whole.
The curtain is almost certainly coming down on the era of unbridled economic and energy expansion, with our elites’ simultaneous commitment to green dogmatism and FDI doomed to erupt into contradiction this decade.
Intel led the way on the PC revolution in the 90s with a sugar rush of foreign investment paving over serious flaws in our industrial base the past three decades. Now it is at the forefront in exemplifying the diminishing returns of that model as the state which facilitates its growth sinks under the demands placed upon it.
The clarion call is being run now as to finding a post-globalist economic economic model for the Irish state, do we expect it to be answered?