The Social Democrat party in Ireland is to propose a Dáil motion for a moratorium on new data centres, over fears of their impact on the national grid and sustainability goals.
In a tweet posted on Monday, the party said, “The surge in data centres risks so much – our energy security, investment, jobs and climate action targets.
“Yet, the Government has not done a cost-benefit analysis.”
Jennifer Whitmore, TD for Wicklow as well as the Social Democrat’s spokesperson on Climate and Biodiversity and Communications Networks, said in a video posted with the tweet:
“We’ve seen huge increases in energy demand from data centres over the last number of years. It really is a runaway horse at this stage, and the Government does not have a grasp on exactly what it means for Ireland and our infrastructure.”
“There is a risk that if the Government are giving permissions for the data centres without having the necessary conditions placed on those data centres, that we’re essentially signing, and the Government is essentially signing, blank cheques for energy demands that we may not actually be able to fulfil.
“Everything that the Government is talking about, they’re saying, ‘In a few months, we will have answers, in a year we’ll have answers’. But actually the data centres are being given permissions now.
“And so we need to make sure that if they’re being given permissions, that they’re being conditioned properly, so that we do have things like district heating as part of it. That it isn’t just a pilot scheme, but it’s something that’s rolled out across the country.
“There are ways to make data centres more efficient, we’re just not asking them to do it yet.”
Data centres have become an increasingly thorny issue in Ireland, where an increase in their development has led to concerns from the public and policy makers about the country’s sustainability and climate goals.
Over the weekend, it emerged that EirGrid – Ireland’s operator of the national electricity grid – will release a report this week suggesting it won’t be able to generate enough electricity over the upcoming years to meet the rapidly growing demand for energy. It is also expected to highlight data centres as one of the main drivers behind the anticipated growth.
In response, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the electricity supply in Ireland will be “very tight” for the next few years, and that no industry should be exempt from endangering Ireland’s climate targets – including data centres.
According to The Irish Times, the Minister previously made clear that Irish centres “cannot jeopardise” the country’s 2030 carbon target.