Europe’s data centre industry will use much more electricity by the end of this decade, accounting for about a quarter of total power consumption in Ireland alone, according to research from BloombergNEF.
The region’s transition to a digital economy will need more megacentres to store and process vast amounts of data, requiring extra electricity to run and keep computers from overheating. That means power demand at the sites in the key markets of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Norway should jump about 80 per cent to almost 48 terrawatt-hours by 2030, BloombergNEF said.
In Ireland, where tech giants such as Google and Amazon have data centres, such sites will account for 24 per cent of the country's power demand by 2030, up from 15 per cent now, BloombergNEF said. That's much more than the increase seen in other markets such as Germany and the Netherlands.
Despite the tech industry’s focus on renewable energy, data centres still need large amounts of fossil fuels to keep them running, and the EU has urged sites to be made more climate friendly. More centres may also make it harder for older grids to keep up with usage, though there’s potential for their expansion to offer more flexible supplies to aid grid systems when needed.
“Data centres may warrant at least as much attention as electric vehicles when it comes load management and impacts on the power network,” BloombergNEF said in a report on Thursday.
More flexibility at data centres – through energy storage or back-up generation – could help stabilise power systems and integrate more renewable generation, the report showed. In Ireland, for example, there could be one gigawatt of flexible capacity by 2030, about twice the estimated installed battery capacity by then. – Bloomberg