Google warns against curbs to data centre developments in Ireland

Tech giant tells regulator move would stall transition into digital and green economy

Google warned that any ban on developing data centres in Ireland must be avoided and would seriously impede the country’s transformation into a digital and green economy.

In a detailed submission to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), the tech giant said any moratorium on data centre development needed to be avoided “at all costs”.

Google said it would send the “wrong signal” about Ireland’s ambitions as a digital economy and risked impeding businesses that wanted to use cloud computing services.

Google said it wanted to continue to invest in data centre infrastructure in the country, but a moratorium would “render this impossible”.


The multinational warned that data centres in Dublin needed to be able to depend on access to the electricity network and that any “uncertainty” on this was “bad for business”.

Google said any changes in data centre policy planned by the CRU needed to be temporary in nature as longer-term solutions for Ireland’s electricity crunch were identified.

Electricity capacity

In the submission, it called for more transparency over where there was existing electricity capacity in the Irish network, adding that there needed to be greater clarity and openness over Eirgrid projections on forecasting the growth of data centre electricity usage.

Google proposed a new tariff system for data centre operators who reserved more capacity than they ultimately needed, or were too slow to grow into that capacity.

“Transmission charging can be designed such that consumers whose demand is not increasing towards their maximum reservation are charged more than those that demonstrate each year that they are growing,” it said.

The submission also said that while it understood Ireland’s current electricity supply issues, these could be rectified with a longer-term approach.

Google was particularly concerned about any plans to block off data centre development on a regional basis or in Dublin, saying this carried its own risks.

“Demand for cloud computing in Dublin is growing,” it said, “and many cloud services must be delivered by data centres close to the user, that is these services cannot be delivered as needed by customers by data centres located far from Dublin.”

Supply issues

Google said they would be piloting on-site battery shortage at a data centre in Belgium but that this technology remained in its infancy.

A separate submission from Amazon Web Services (AWS) said Ireland had missed opportunities in the past to deal with supply issues.

“During the previous decade, there were opportunities to deploy reinforcements, prepare the grid for growth and investment, and equip the grid for the integration of more intermittent resources.”

Amazon Web Services said they had explored suggestions that data centre connections could be prioritised if located in areas where the power grid was “unconstrained”.

However, it was “not confident” that such a location existed in Ireland given the constraints on electricity supply nationally.

They also said they could not support any move for data centres to become reliant on fossil-fuel generators for back-up supplies.

The documents are among eight submissions considered confidential by the CRU, which were received last year as part of consultation on data centre development in Ireland. They were released under Access to Information on the Environment Regulations.

However, release of one of the submissions has been appealed by the unnamed company that sent it to CRU. Two others have been withheld on commercial-sensitivity grounds.