- Ireland published new principles for data centers reflected in energy, enterprise, and planning policy across government departments, local authorities, development agencies as well as other public bodies.
- 300 MW of additional new data center connections can be developed in Ireland. Data center demand beyond this would need further essential reinforcements and larger grid investment and decarbonization objectives.
- Currently, data centers account for just under 2% of all greenhouse gas emissions and are responsible for 14 percent of Ireland’s electricity consumption.
Ireland has published new principles on data center development underlining their strain on the national electricity grid. Currently, data centers account for just under 2% of all greenhouse gas emissions and are responsible for 14 percent of Ireland’s electricity consumption. The government targets to reduce the country’s emissions within the next decade.
Limited capacity for data center development
The Irish government stated that data centers are core digital infrastructure and play an essential role in their economy and society. Despite great success in having a large data center sector which puts Ireland in a position as a technology sector ‘hub’, electricity grid development could not keep up with the pace of demand growth in recent years. In the short term, there is only limited capacity for data center development.
According to EirGrid, a state-owned electric power transmission operator in Ireland, 300 MW of additional new data center connections can be developed against new data center projects up to 1 GW which are not yet contracted to the electricity system. These projects bring additional strains to grid capacity and the emissions goals set for the electricity sector in the Climate Action Plan.
Ireland intends to build the longer-term bases for a net zero-ready economy by setting the new principles. Regulators and the electricity sector will focus on working to improve data center infrastructure by connecting more renewable energy. The principles aim to secure the data center infrastructure to contribute positively to the climate and digital ambitions of Ireland.
The new principles for sustainable data center development
- Grid Capacity and Efficiency: The Government has a preference for data center developments that make efficient use of the Irish electricity grid, using available capacity and alleviating constraints.
- Renewables Additionality: The Government has a preference for data center developments that can demonstrate the additionality of their renewable energy use in Ireland.
- Co-location or Proximity with Future-proof energy supply: The Government has a preference for data center developments in locations where there is the potential to co-locate a renewable generation facility or advanced storage with the data center, supported by a CPPA, private wire, or other arrangements.
- Decarbonised Data Centres by Design: The Government has a preference for data centers developments that can demonstrate a clear pathway to decarbonize and ultimately provide net zero data services
- SME Access and Community Benefits: The Government has a preference for data center developments that provide opportunities for community engagement and assist SMEs, both at the construction phase and throughout the data center lifecycle.
The new principles show the Government’s clear preference for data center developments to use of the electricity grid and deliver renewable energy in Ireland. Datacenter developments that are not matched with new principles would not be in line with government policy. This revised statement updates the original Government Statement on Data Centres, which was published in July 2018.