Ireland is heading towards 30 per cent of the country’s energy supply going to data centres, the chief executive of environmental group Friends of the Earth Ireland has claimed.
Oisín Coughlan was responding to the decision of Fingal County Council to approve planning permission to Amazon for three new data centres that will amount to 73 megawatts of power.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr Coughlan said the that level of energy use was comparable to the 84 megawatts generated by the Bord na Móna Mountlucas wind farm in Co Westmeath.
He pointed out plans to bring the Tarbert power station in Co Clare back online this winter would generate 150 megawatts. “So half of Tarbert will be dedicated to keeping these data centres going rather than keeping our lights going.”
Mr Coughlan said opponents were not saying there should not be any data centres at all but there was concern Ireland was already heading towards ten times the European average, even before the Fingal approval.
“Of course we’re going to have data centres, we just don’t need to have every data centre that’s going in Europe. The other country that has anything like ours is Singapore – 14 per cent. We’re heading to 30 per cent. It’s already more than all the urban homes in Ireland, twice as many as all the rural homes in Ireland. That’s the power the data centres are using now and we’re heading to double that in the next ten years.”
Amazon has been granted permission to build three data centres in Dublin, doubling the company’s capacity at its campus in the next couple of years.
The tech giant, which lodged the plans for the site at its data campus centre near Mulhuddart in December 2022, is seeking to build three more data centres at its Amazon Web Services data centre campus at Cruiserath Road, Dublin 15. The three buildings have a combined power load of 73MW.
The plans will bring to six the number of data centres planned for the site. One centre, previously granted permission, is already operational, while two others are under construction.
Friends of the Earth submitted an observation to the planning application for the three data centres stating this would “lock us into our dependency” on fossil fuels.
“It’s a triple threat. It’s a threat to our energy security, the security of our power system, a threat to our pollution limits. And to be honest, it’s a threat to the credibility of this Government on climate.” The Government had announced a moratorium on data centres around Dublin because of the risk to the power grid, Mr Coughlan said.
“And here we are. This is driving a coach and horses through that if this is allowed to go ahead. And the reason it might be able to go ahead is because they already have a grid connection at the site for an existing data centre.” If the three new data centres go ahead it will drive up demand for gas and fossil fuels,” Mr Coughlan said.
“Because even if they say they’re going to use renewables, it means that there’s less renewables for the rest of us. So the rest of us have to use gas or coal from Moneypoint to keep the lights on.”