Europe, Renewables, Smart Grid T&D, T&D Infrastructure

Ireland faces data centre challenge to power demand

Data centres will consume 20 per cent of Ireland’s power generation capacity by 2025, according to the country’s main grid operator, Eirgrid.

Eirgrid added that the huge increase in data centre activity in the country would eat up to 75 per cent of growth in Irish power demand.

The Irish Independent reports that the amount of power needed to store emails, texts and other online data could rise seven-fold as Ireland chases inward investment from tech giants including Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
Facebook data center Ireland
“Large industrial connections normally do not dominate a country’s energy demand forecast but this is the case for Ireland at the moment,” the All-Island Generation Capacity Statement 2017-2026 says.

The situation has been further complicated by a fall in older conventional power plants, due to close over the same time frame. While more renewables are being added to the system, the newspaper reports that capacity in Dublin is ‘on a knife edge.’

Analysis from EirGrid shows that data centres already connected to the grid consume 250 MW of electricity, sufficient to power more than 210,000 homes.

Another 550 MW is due to be connected over the coming years, enough for almost 470,000 houses, while projects under discussion could consume as much as 1,000MW – enough for 850,000 homes.

“If all of these enquiries were to connect, the data centre load could account for 20 per cent of all-island peak demand,” it says in its ten-year transmission forecast statement. “Clearly the potential connection of demand on this scale is equivalent to decades of national demand growth.”

Massive investment in sub-stations and other infrastructure – particularly around Dublin – will be required, sources said.

“If these connections materialise, new large-scale generation, transmission solutions, demand side response and/or storage will be required in the Dublin area to accommodate further demand increases and ensure continued security of supply,” EirGrid says.