Jennifer Whitmore TD

There should be a pause on data centre connections until a strategic analysis has been carried out by the Government 

The regulation and management of data centres in Ireland should be overseen by a single entity, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on energy and climate action, said:

“As the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show, proper oversight of data centres by the Government is urgently required.

“Energy consumption by data centres increased by 31 per cent between 2021 and 2022 and represented 18 per cent of all metered electricity usage last year – the same percentage as all urban dwellings.

“As high demand can be a key driver of prices, data centres can lead to increased energy costs. It also puts pressure on the grid and makes it more difficult to achieve our climate targets.

“The release of yesterday’s CSO figures coincided with an orange energy alert, a reminder of the fragility of supply that we face as a country.

“The Social Democrats are calling for a pause on data centre connections until a strategic analysis has been carried out by the Government to ensure that Ireland can cope with the pressures we are seeing on energy demand.

“We also need to see a single entity manage this process. Currently, each Government department or State body deals with separate components and, incredibly, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) does not have a list or register of data centres.

“This was evident when the CSO had to scramble to collect information on data centres from various sources, including internet searches and an examination of customers in business parks with high annual electricity consumption.

“While we recognise that data centres are needed in our growing economy to cater for the tech environment we have created, they must be efficient, well managed and regulated – something that is not happening at the moment.”

June 13, 2023

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