Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (64)

Denis Naughten

Question:

64. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will provide details of the impact that data centres will have on electricity demand in Ireland over the next decade and the policy interventions planned as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2968/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Government policy in relation to data centres is primarily a matter for the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

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 electricity grid infrastructure.

The Programme for Government commits to developing efficiency standards for equipment and processes, particularly those set to grow rapidly, such as data centres. Last year, the European Commission adopted Shaping Europe's Digital Future, which includes an objective to foster an open, democratic and sustainable society. Key actions include initiatives to achieve climate-neutral, highly energy efficient and sustainable data centres by no later than 2030.

EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2020-2029, project that demand from data centres could account for 27% of all demand by 2029, up from 2% in 2018.

Significant increases in volumes of generation capacity, including from renewable energy sources, will be required to meet Ireland’s electrification objectives including 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 including implementing flexible demand and other innovative solutions for data centres. This has been implemented by EirGrid for new data centres seeking to connect in Dublin.The Climate Action Plan also provides that the IDA will use its new strategy to fully integrate decarbonisation objectives across its portfolio of clients. This strategy will seek to ensure new large-scale enterprise investments in Ireland, including factors such as location and power purchase agreement opportunities, are aligned with the build-out of the grid to maximise renewable sources.

Work is also ongoing by the Renewable Electricity Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) Steering Group, led by the SEAI in order to deliver on the step up in ambition in the Climate Action Plan of meeting 15% of electricity demand from CPPAs by 2030. A set of policy options have been developed in order to increase the take up of CPPAs with an expected consultation on these policy proposals in Q1 2021.