EirGrid , Ireland's semi-state electricity grid operator has predicted a 21% increase in electricity demand over the next decade “largely due to new data centres connecting”.
In its recent ‘all-island generation capacity statement’ , EirGrid estimates that 15% of all electricity demand in Ireland will come from data centres by 2026 as tech giants such as Amazon, Google , Facebook and Apple all establish data storage facilities here .
EirGrid’s report said there was currently 250 mega-volt amperes (MVA) of installed data centres in Ireland, but another 600 MVA in facilities were in the connection process and there were inquiries for more than 1,000 MVA of additional data centres .
EirGrid noted that this electricity will need to come from wind generation and renewable sources in order to meet EU targets . Under EU Directive (2009/28/EC) , 16% of our energy must come from renewable sources by 2020 or face fines of up to €75 million per year .
" The likelihood of meeting the targets for 2020 will depend largely on how much new wind and biomass can be built and accommodated on the system over the coming years " it stated .
This presents a Dilemma for people in Rural Areas . On one hand , they support the Data centre as they believe it brings jobs but on the other hand it will mean more Wind Farms for their community in order to power these centres going forward
If we take the proposed Apple Data centre in Athenry . It requires 240MW of power which is 6 - 8 % of the national grid .
Apple said that this would come from 100% renewable energy .
This would require a wind farm 3 times the size of Mount Lucas in Offaly or 1.4 times the size of The Galway Wind Park in Cloosh Valley which are Ireland's largest Wind Farms .
Mount Lucas Wind Farm in Offaly has 28 turbines and generates 84MW of energy (powering 45,000 homes a year) while The Galway Wind Park in Cloosh Valley has 58 turbines and generates 169MW of energy (powering 84,000 homes a year)
The Athenry Apple centre requires 240 MW , which is almost 3 times more power than Mount Lucas could provide and 1.4 times that of The Galway Wind Park . In total it would require the same amount of power as 128,000 homes . More than Galway or Dublin City .
In terms of Jobs , while there are short term jobs in the construction of these centres, once operational they dont require much maintainance.
For example , Amazon’s proposed Mulhuddart facility in Dublin is expected to employ only 30 people when completed even though its the size of three football pitches .
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Eirgrid's Projected Data Centre Requirements