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Data Centres

'Limited capacity' for new data centres as Government introduces new conditions for development

Data centres are currently responsible for 14% of Ireland’s electricity usage.

THE GOVERNMENT HAVE said that there is only “limited capacity” for further data centre development while the energy sector continues to deal with electricity security issues. 

A new statement from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment says that while data has become “essential” in people’s daily lives, data centre development must be aligned with green policies.

“Data is an essential enabler of our increasingly digital economy and society facilitating everything from remote working, on-line learning and e-health to on-line retail, food service delivery, banking, and payments,” said the Government.

“However, we must align the twin transitions which are both digital and green.”

At present, data centres are responsible for 14% of all electricity usage in Ireland as of 2021. This is a 32% increase compared to 2020 and a 265% increase compared to 2015.

Ireland currently faces some electricity supply issues, with the Government saying that they recognise the “significant capacity constraints on the electricity system in the short-to-medium term”.

“In the short term, there is only limited capacity for further data centre development, as the key state bodies, regulators and the electricity sector work to upgrade our infrastructure, connect more renewable energy and ensure security of supply,” said the Government.

Interim measures, like permission being sought for two temporary fossil fuel power plants in Dublin, are planned to help ease pressures alongside new conditions that must be met to allow additional data centres.

These include preferring data centres that make “efficient” use of the Irish electricity grid as well as centres that co-locate or are in close proximity to renewable energy generation sites.

The Government will also prefer data centres that are associated with “strong economic activity and employment” and that engage with local communities or help small and medium enterprises.

“Data centre developments which are not consistent with these principles would not be in line with government policy.”

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