Thursday, 16 September 2021

Ceisteanna (55)

James Lawless

Ceist:

55. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he has considered regulations on the usage of energy by data centres in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44232/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The Government policy in relation to data centres and entreprise policy is primarily a matter for the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Any national planning guidelines that might be considered would a matter for the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.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. The Statement also noted that data centres pose considerable challenges to the future planning and operation of Ireland’s power system. The Programme for Government commits to developing efficiency standards for equipment and processes, particularly those set to grow rapidly, such as data centres. In addition, 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.In 2020, data centres were approximately 11% of the total electricity used in Ireland, demonstrating that the impact of data centres on Ireland’s energy demand, and therefore emissions in the electricity sector, is significant. EirGrid, in their Generation Capacity Statement 2020-2029, project that demand from data centres could account for 27% of all demand by 2029.In June 2021, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) published a proposed Direction to the electricity system operators related to Data Centre grid connection, for consultation. This included a number of options for managing data centre connection demand. A final decision will be issued by the CRU in due course.Earlier this year, EirGrid carried out 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. Publication of the outcome of the consultation is expected in Q4 of this year.