Data centres could be the solution to the energy crisis, not the problem

Data centres could be paid to reduce their consumption and help balance the grid by participating in a Demand Side Unit scheme.
Data centres could be the solution to the energy crisis, not the problem

Data centres have recently become a topic of national concern due to their energy consumption and strain on the national electricity operator, Eirgrid.

Eirgid has warned that the State may face an electricity shortfall over the next five winters unless it boosts supply to meet an unusual surge in demand.

The operator identified data centres as the primary cause for the increase in demand.

However, it could be possible that the centres are used to help provide a solution to the energy crisis.

Back-up generators

Norman Crowley, CEO of Cool Blue Planet, has said that data centres could be a solution to Irelands energy crisis through using generators and batter storage.

“They all have back-up generators. If they can switch to the generators at peak times, they can free up the grid,” Mr Crowley said.

“The country can use 5,000 megawatts of energy on a peak day.

“Data Centres have 1,500 megawatts of unused energy in back-up generators.

“This is more than enough to take pressure off the grid on peak days if they switch to them.”

Reducing consumption

Mr Crowley also made they point that data centres could be paid to reduce their consumption and help balance the grid by participating in a Demand Side Unit (DSU) scheme.

The DSU scheme was set up to help provide Eirgrid with system capacity at times when the country’s energy demand outstrips supply, and the grid comes under pressure.

“We’re all so used to paying for electricity but getting paid not to use electricity is very new to most people,” Mr Crowley said.

The idea would be that large energy users such as data centres, factories and commercial buildings can participate in the scheme by agreeing to reduce energy use when the grid comes under pressure.

This would be done by switching to on-site generators or battery storage, or temporarily switching off certain machines and processes which would balance supply and demand and stabilises the grid.

“Pausing the construction of data centres is not the answer,” Mr Crowley added.

“Soon, we’re all going to be plugging in our electric cars overnight, which will add more pressure on the grid.

“The government needs to prepare for this by adding more renewables.”

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