Newly released statistics reveal Ireland’s Data Centers now consume more electricity than all rural homes in the country combined. This has prompted concerns about sustainability and energy security.

Ireland has long been a popular host of data centers. Google, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, and other tech giants have data centers on the island nation serving mainland Europe.

According to Host in Ireland, an industry group promoting data centers in the country, as much as €7 billion was invested between 2010-2020 to build this infrastructure. An additional €7 billion is expected to be spent building these data centers by 2026.

About Irish data centers’ power use

The popularity of Irish data centers has led to an exponential growth in their share of the country’s power use. Electricity consumption by these massive facilities increased by 32 percent between 2020 and 2021 and 265 percent between October 2021 to December 2021.

Indeed, Ireland’s data centers consumed 1,058-gigawatt hours in Q4 2021. This amounted to 14 percent of all metered energy in the country being directed to these data centers. In contrast, rural residences had a 12 percent share of the nation’s total power use.

This was a first in Ireland. In fact, EirGrid concludes that data centers’ share of the country’s power supply will rise to 29 percent by 2028.

Concerns about data centers’ sustainability

Data centers’ steep energy use has made them increasingly controversial in Europe. Politicians, environmental activists, and energy advocates are split over how much electricity they should be allowed access to.

Due to this ongoing debate and the increasing pressure of data centers on its power grids, Ireland’s Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has drawn up new policies. While avoiding a moratorium on new data center connections, the CRU will now prioritize data centers that can generate enough electricity to power themselves on their own.