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Our antiquated electricity grid cannot sustain the uncontrolled proliferation of data centres

The government must introduce a moratorium on the construction of new data centres if it wants to reach its emission reduction targets, according to Social Democrats Climate Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.

“The growth of data centres in Ireland, and the consequent increased demand on the national grid, has been unprecedented in recent years. In the last four years alone, the increase in demand has been equivalent to the addition of 140,000 homes each year to the power supply.

“The energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), has already warned that consumers could face rolling blackouts later this year. At the weekend, we learned that the CRU has recommended postponing the permanent retirement of coal generators at Moneypoint beyond 2025 due to the inability of the national grid to sustain increased demand.

“Following the publication of yesterday’s stark IPCC report on climate change, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said the first thing we need to do is stop using fossil fuels. But, there is now a danger that, under his watch, coal burning generators at Moneypoint could be retained after they were due to be decommissioned. This would clearly make achieving our emissions targets almost impossible.

“Our antiquated electricity grid cannot sustain the uncontrolled proliferation of data centres. Eigrid has already warned that it has so many new applications from data centres, seeking electricity connection, that supplying them would amount to 70pc of national power use. This is unsustainable.

“Minister Ryan has conceded that we are in the midst of an emergency situation as regards the security of our immediate energy supply this winter. However, the emergency extends much further than that, and has implications for our ability to meet our climate change targets unless the growth of data centres is not curbed.

“The government must introduce an immediate moratorium on the construction of data centres until it investigates the ability of the national grid to sustain new connections into the future. We know we have a limited time to tackle climate change and the government has said it has ambitious climate action targets. Its blithe attitude to the threat posed by data centres suggests otherwise.”

10 August, 2021


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