Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has called on Minister Eamon Ryan to bring forward a plan for the coming winter to ensure the state is not plunged into darkness.
His comments come as the Single Electricity Market Operator issued an electricity amber alert for a second day in a row.
The Meath East TD said:
“These electricity amber alerts should be a cause of concern and require an immediate government response.
“The uncontrolled growth of data centres here over the past few years has also put enormous pressure on our generation capacity.
“We now have about 70 data centres in the state, which are using the same amount of electricity as all the homes in rural Ireland combined. This demand is set to at least double by 2030.
“Sinn Féin previously called for a moratorium on the connection of new data centres until an energy security impact risk analysis has been carried out.
“But just this week, approval was granted for a new data centre in Ennis, which will use as much electricity as 200,000 homes.
“It is incredible that this is continuing, while the threat of blackouts hangs over the population.
“If we are having amber alerts in mid-summer, what will the situation be like in mid-winter, when light and heating demand increases due to the dark and cold?
“In addition to a moratorium on new data centres, the government must now outline how they will deal with a shortfall of electricity during the winter, to ensure we aren’t plunged into darkness.
“This plan should outline which large energy consumers will reduce demand and by how much, to ensure ordinary households are not left in the cold and dark.
“The shortfall in electricity generation capacity also reinforces the need to accelerate the delivery of offshore wind.
“Sectoral stakeholders have pointed to a range of challenges and delays in terms of planning, regulations, grid capacity, port investment, skills capacity and supply chain. These need to be addressed.
“The current timeframe from proposal to electricity generation for offshore wind is far too long, and we need to speed up this process, given both the climate crisis and the shortfall in electricity generation capacity here.”