Electricity consumption by data centres increased by 32% in 2021
Posted on Monday, 6 June 2022
According to the latest data from the CSO on the metred electricity consumption of data centres electricity consumption by data centres increased by 32% between 2020 and 2021. The increase between January to March 2015 and October to December 2021 was 265%. The figures show a steady increase quarter by quarter since 2015, with the increase in consumption driven by a combination of existing data centres using more electricity and new data centres being added to the grid. Meeting our targets on reduced emissions from energy and increased generation of renewable energy will be difficult to achieve whilst simultaneously pursuing a policy of data centre expansion.
Electricity consumption by data centres increased by 32% between 2020 and 2021.
Electricity consumption by data centres increased by 265% between January to March 2015 and October to December 2021.
The percentage of metered electricity consumed by data centres rose from 5% in 2015 to 14% in 2021. This was an increase of 2,757 Gigawatt hours between 2015 and 2021.
Total metered electricity consumption increased by 16% or 3,906 Gigawatt hours between 2015 and 2021.
Quarterly metered electricity consumption by data centres increased steadily from 290 Gigawatt hours in the first quarter of 2015 to 1,058 Gigawatt hours in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Table 1 below outlines the expansion in the number of data centres in Ireland since 2015 and the amount of electricity they consume.
There is a mismatch between pursuing a policy of data centre expansion, and the pressure that this will put on energy resources whilst simultaneously trying to reduce our energy emissions. Eirgrid found in their ‘All-Island Generation Capacity Statement 2019-2028’ that forecasted energy demand in Ireland continues to be heavily influenced by the expected growth of large energy users, primarily data centres. Data centres can require the same amount of energy as a small town and Eirgrid forecast that 29 per cent of total energy demand will come from data centres by 2028. More recently, in January 2022 Eirgrid confirmed a moratorium on data centre expansion in Dublin due to pressures on the national grid and in particular in the greater Dublin area This is an example of the policy incoherence that must be addressed if Ireland is to meet the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan. All of Government policies should be supporting our climate and environmental goals rather than inhibiting progress towards those goals.