Power cuts in Ireland due to energy intake by data centres?

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Ireland’s Commission for Regulations of Utilities (CRU) has warned the country that it may face power cuts because of data centers’ majorly impacting the electricity system.

Why will Ireland by facing power cuts?

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities has warned Ireland about power cuts because of data centers taking up a lot of electricity. Their report states that Ireland’s power grid has been compromised because of the amount of electricity they are using to operate. The CRU has stated: “When this is also considered in the context of wider system security… it is clear that measures must be implemented to encourage data centers to address some of these risks.”

Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon all have a substantial footprint in Ireland, which acts as one of the most significant data center powerhouses in Europe.

What will Ireland have to do now?

Due to these operations and other areas within the IT industry growing tremendously, Ireland’s economy has been booming. However, now, Ireland has to ensure that the power demand is met with an equivalent supply to keep operations going.

To accomplish this, ESBN and EirGrid, who operate the electricity grid of Ireland, would need to prioritize data centers’ grid connection applications according to many factors. One of the considerations is if data centers generate enough energy onsite to provide electricity for themselves. The other is how flexible they can be regarding their consumption during “system constraint” times.

What are the implications of doing this?

Garrett Monaghan, an energy law expert, states that these rules would also likely, “influence the power supply strategies developers and operators of data centers put in place.” Monaghan added that the CRU’s proposed rules would be applied country-wide, with a high chance that data centers may be spread out more.

Information from EirGrid further clarifies the scenario

EirGrid has come out with figures which show how much power data centers are consuming. In the past four years alone, EirGrid has seen demands of power increased by approximately 600GWh just from data centers, which is the equivalent of adding 140,000 households to the grid every year.

After calculating, data centers may account for over a quarter of the power demand in Ireland by 2030. It also seems likely that it may increase to a third. The CRU stated: “The worst outcome… could result in load shedding and ultimately rolling blackouts. This is not acceptable, and measures need to be introduced to manage the supply-demand balance.” Ireland needs to submit by the 7th of July 2021 for the consultation.