The suggestion, that it can be business as usual for data centres, is as deluded as it is arrogant

The government must resist lobbying by tech giants for data centres and instead publish a strategic analysis of their impact on our climate action goals and energy security, according to Social Democrats Climate Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.

“A new lobby group, Cloud Infrastructure Ireland (CII), which represents some of the biggest tech companies in the country, has demanded the government express its clear support for the continued expansion of data centres. This suggestion, that it can be business as usual for data centres – even as the government scrambles to publish the details of its Climate Action Plan – is as deluded as it is arrogant.

“We know we are facing a crisis in our energy security and we know where most of the threat is coming from – the proliferation of data centres, which are putting immense pressure on our national grid. The energy regulator has already warned that we face rolling blackouts if immediate action is not taken to mitigate this risk.

“CII need to answer a simple question: how many data centres are enough? As it stands, the annual increase in energy demand, from data centres, in the last four years was equivalent to adding 140,000 households to the power system each year. This level of increased demand is simply not sustainable.

“We also need some clear information about the economic benefit of these data centres. At the end of July, I asked Tánaiste, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar to provide the number of short and long-term jobs created by data centres and was told his Department did not collect that data. The IDA does not maintain a register of data centres either. How can we assess the economic benefit of this surge of data centres in the absence of any information about the jobs they support?

“We are facing into a twin crisis in terms of energy security and climate change in which there is just one certainty. If data centres are allowed proliferate, in the way they have to date, our national grid will be unable to cope and we will spectacularly miss our legally-binding climate action targets.

“It is now time for the government to get real. Stop listening to lobbying from tech companies and impose a moratorium on the construction of new data centres until we have more information about the risks that they pose and the best way to mitigate those risks. We need a strategic analysis of the impact of data centres on our climate action goals and energy security.”

30 August, 2021


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