Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (41)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

41. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he is monitoring the high usage of electricity at electronic data centres; the levels of energy required; the projected additional levels of power needed by this sector to 2030; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28333/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Data centres are a key contributor to electricity demand growth in Ireland. While data centres have until recently accounted for less than 2% of Ireland’s total electricity demand, EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2018-2027, project that demand from data centres could account for 31% of all demand by 2027. Data centres consume very large amounts of energy and have a flat, predictable demand profile meaning that they use the same amount of electricity throughout the day and night and therefore require a range of generation technologies to meet their demand. Given the quantum of electricity required to power data centres, it is important that renewable projects are developed to meet the demand for additional renewable electricity generation and the costs of this are minimised for consumers. The Government Statement on the role of data centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy, 2018 recognises that a plan-led approach is needed to develop a range of measures to promote regional options for data centre investment, minimising the need for additional grid infrastructure.

Significant increases in volumes of generation capacity, including from renewable energy sources, will be required to meet Ireland’s increasing electricity demand including from data centres. The recently launched Climate Action Plan sets out a number of actions to ensure that data centres are accommodated in a sustainable manner. Corporate power purchasing of renewable energy by large energy users such as data centres will be critical to supplying data centre demand as will ensuring that large demand connections are regionally balanced to minimise grid reinforcements.