August 30, 2021
Move to attract more data centres will increase energy costs and undermine climate efforts – Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform Mairéad Farrell TD has criticised the Taoiseach’s move to streamline the planning application process for the creation of more large data centres.

These data centres are already consuming huge amounts of Ireland’s energy and water supplies, with very little payoff beyond the initial construction phase.

Teachta Farrell said they will make reaching our 2030 climate targets much more difficult, meaning we will continue to incur large fines from the EU, and will likely have to increase fossil fuel energy imports to compensate for this increased demand.
The Galway West TD said:
“At the start of the month, and in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report, we had the Taoiseach lecturing us how climate change will have ‘increasingly devastating consequences’ unless action is taken.

“Yet just two weeks later, he tells us he will be streamlining the planning application process for large energy intensive data centres, and making objections to them more difficult. 

“It seems fair to say that the Taoiseach’s actions will also have ‘increasingly devastating consequences’. His apparent lack of any sense of self awareness is frightening.
“These data centres consume huge amounts of our energy and water. In fact they are projected to consume around 30% of all energy produced here in just a few short years.

“So as people try their best to reduce their own carbon footprint, this government seem hell bent on undoing that hard work with decisions like this.

“The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) suggested imposing a moratorium on grid connections for data centres, whose growth is attributable to the increased energy demand and rising power outage risks this winter.

“Eirgrid’s Head of Regulation, Bill Thompson, has warned that we are now facing more acute security of supply problems than it has had in the past, whilst noting that in Holland and Singapore there have been moves to have halt or limit data centre development.

“Last year during the debate on the Finance bill when we were discussing the carbon tax, I put it to the Minister for Finance that if we wished to lower Ireland’s carbon emissions, why was he not tackling the issue of the data centres – as these were a major and growing source of energy usage.

“The Minister intimated that the facilitation of these energy intensive data centres was to appease the FDI sector. The Taoiseach says they are needed to show that ‘Ireland remains a welcoming and attractive place in which to do business’.

“But whose claiming we’re not an attractive place to do business? Ireland was one of the largest recipients in the world of US FDI long before a single data centre was established here, and rest assured that in the absence of such data centres we would still be an attractive place to do business.”

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