Home ireland Minister briefed on ‘indispensable’ nature of data centres before Dáil debate

Minister briefed on ‘indispensable’ nature of data centres before Dáil debate

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Minister briefed on ‘indispensable’ nature of data centres before Dáil debate

Data centres play an “indispensable role in our economy and society” and the growth in their energy consumption in recent years is largely due to “existing centres increasing their consumption”, a note for a minister said this week.

As the Irish Examiner reports, a briefing note prepared for Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan, ahead of questions he would face in the Dáil, said the Government has adopted a “rational approach” to data centres despite criticism that this is at odds with our environmental goals.

It came in the same week that new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 18 per cent of metred electricity in 2022 was used by data centres, the same percentage as urban homes.

Data centre electricity usage jumped by more than 30 per cent in 2022 compared to the previous year, the CSO said.

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There are roughly 70 data centres in operation in Ireland, with another 30 in planning. This compares to around 2.2 million homes using metered electricity.

While data centre electricity usage has grown significantly, the opposite is true of homes. In 2022, urban homes reduced their usage by 10 per cent, with rural homes using 9% less than the year before.

Last year, Eirgrid ruled out new data centres in and around Dublin until 2028, while the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) said in late 2021 that it would impose a moratorium on new ones if it deemed necessary to do so.

The briefing note was prepared for Mr Ryan ahead of questions in the Dáil around Ireland’s energy policies on Thursday.