Wednesday, July 27, 2022

There will be no Government ban on the development of new data centres, according to the Department of Enterprise.

Data centres have become a topic of national concern due to their strain on the national electricity grid, and currently account for 14 per cent of Ireland’s electricity consumption amid attempts to halve the country’s emissions within the next decade.

However, in a new policy position published by the Department on Wednesday evening, the Government said data was “an essential enabler of our increasingly digital economy and society”.

Pushing for “twin transitions which are both digital and green,” it said it would adopt a new set of principles to facilitate “sustainable” data centre development in line with commitments under the Climate Action Plan.

This will “harness the economic and societal benefits that data centres bring” while recognising strain on the electricity system and the need to decarbonise the country’s energy system, it added.

The agreed principles outlined by the Government are as follows:

  • Economic impact: The Government has a preference for data centre developments associated with strong economic activity and employment.
  • Grid capacity and efficiency: The Government has a preference for data centre developments that make efficient use of our electricity grid, using available capacity and alleviating constraints.
  • Renewables additionality: The Government has a preference for data centre developments that can demonstrate the additionality of their renewable energy use in Ireland.
  • Co-location or proximity with future-proof energy supply: The Government has a preference for data centre developments in locations where there is the potential to co-locate a renewable generation facility or advanced storage with the data centre, supported by a CPPA, private wire or other arrangement.
  • Decarbonised data centres by design: The Government has a preference for data centres developments that can demonstrate a clear pathway to decarbonise and ultimately provide net zero data services
  • SME access and community benefits: The Government has a preference for data centre developments that provide opportunities for community engagement and assist SMEs, both at the construction phase and throughout the data centre lifecycle.

Data centre developments which are not consistent with these principles will not be in line with Government policy, the statement from the Department added.

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