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Data Centres

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Questions (106, 118)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

106. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the analysis his Department has carried out to determine the amount of renewable energy that will be used by data centres by 2030; the efforts he is taking to ensure the sustainable use of renewable energy as more data centres come on stream; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29429/21]

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Denis Naughten

Question:

118. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the 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. [28802/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 118 together.

The Government Statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy (2018) acknowledges the role of data centres as part of the digital and communications infrastructure for many sectors of our economy. Data centres are part of the core infrastructure of the digital economy by enabling inter alia data storage, banking and disaster recovery services. They have become increasingly important in the context of remote working during the Covid 19 pandemic and also support high-quality jobs. The Statement also noted that data centres pose considerable challenges to the future planning and operation of Ireland’s power system.

In 2020, data centres represented approximately 11% of the total electricity used in Ireland. EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2020-2029, project that demand from data centres could account for 27% of all demand by 2029 which is significant.

The Programme for Government commits to developing efficiency standards for equipment and processes, particularly those set to grow rapidly, such as data centres. The ICT sector needs to undergo its own green transformation. In addition, EirGrid recently launched a public consultation on 'Shaping our Electricity Future'. The aim is to make the electricity grid stronger and more flexible so that it can carry significantly more renewable generation as well as meet increasing demand from high volume energy users such as data centres. This may include potential geographic restrictions or incentives of large demand customers closer to the generation of power, potentially giving a more regional balance of locations. A consultation on this strategy is open until 14 June and there has been detailed stakeholder engagement on it.

Furthermore, my Department is carrying out a review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems. It is planned that the review will be completed by the end of 2021. The outcome of the review may inform policy in order to meet future demand from data centres.

Ireland has significant ambitions to ensure that at least 70% of our electricity demand will be met by renewable sources by 2030. This will help supply the growing demand from data centres. In addition, the large multinationals with data centres in Ireland have committed to a global target of being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2025 with some committing to 24/7 renewable energy supply. Under the 2019 Climate Action Plan a Corporate Power Purchase Advisory Group was established to develop options for realising a target of 15% of demand to be met from CPPAs by 2030. The SEAI launched a public consultation on the report which closed on 14 April 2021. Based on the consultation feedback and other considerations, a recommendations paper on a roadmap for CPPAs will be de veloped later in 2021.

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