Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (487)

Catherine Martin


487. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to ensure that large data farms make sufficient financial contributions for the required supporting infrastructure including power generation and transmission; his views on whether their purchasing of renewable electricity may be restricting the availability of renewable electricity to residential consumers; and if he will consider regulating to ensure that their waste heat is used and not wasted. [50069/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Government policy in relation to the Role of Data Centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation in the first instance. 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. While data centres have until recent time accounted for less than 2% of Ireland’s total electricity demand, EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2019-2028, project that demand from data centres could account for 29% of all demand by 2028. EirGrid, in its capacity as the transmission system operator, continually model and forecast the predicted future growth of electricity demand in their published analysis such as Tomorrow's Energy Scenarios, which is available on their website at www.eirgrid.com

While data centres consume very large amounts of energy they have a flat, predictable demand profile meaning that they use the same amount of electricity day and night and therefore require a range of generation technologies to meet their demand. Significant increases in volumes of generation capacity, including from renewable energy sources, will be required to meet Ireland’s electrification objectives and demand from heat pumps, electric vehicles and data centres. The 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 that is unsubsidised by the state will also be critical to supplying data centre demand, as will ensuring that large demand connections are regionally balanced to minimise grid reinforcements and the costs to consumers.