The Irish Times view on business lobbying on data centres: a tone of entitlement

Amazon’s arguments are a reminder of the central role that data centres play in the global strategy of large technology companies - and of the State’s challenges on green energy

A data centre with rows of server racks: tech companies are warning the Government that they have a key role in overall tech investment in Ireland

The peremptory tone of Amazon’s lobbying of the Government over the shortage of power for data centres may be jarring but is not surprising. The importance to the Irish economy of a handful of US companies gives them considerable leverage and leads to a tone of entitlement in their lobbying.

In the case of Amazon, it clearly feels that a €17 billion investment and 6,500 jobs entitles it to bluntly tell the taoiseach of the day – in this case Leo Varadkar at a meeting in February – that Ireland needs to up its game or risk losing out on future US investment.

They do have a point. A historic lack of investment in power generating capacity and the grid has resulted in limits being put on the development of new data centres, including a moratorium on any new centres in the Dublin region.

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities is to publish a new policy on connecting large energy users such as data centres to the national grid by the end of the summer. Amazon’s future expansion plan for Ireland will hinge in part on a favourable outcome to this process.


It cannot be assumed that Amazon – for all its leverage – will get what it wants. If the necessary generating capacity and transmission infrastructure is not in place the question of connection is moot. The prioritisation of Amazon and other data centre operators also cannot be taken for granted.

The Government wants to ensure that Ireland benefits from the wave of investment in generative AI – and data centres have frequently been part of a wider package aimed at anchoring such investment here. But there has been pushback against data centres because of their heavy energy use and a debate about their contribution to the economy given the low numbers employed.

Amazon’s lobbying is a reminder of the central role that data centres play in the global strategy of large technology companies. A way forward will only be found if Ireland can accelerate investment in green energy and the necessary infrastructure to underpin its delivery.