Data centre flexibility key for new connections to national power supply, says regulator

It follows concern about the State's ability to meet a surge in demand due to the connection of data centres to the national electricity grid
Data centre flexibility key for new connections to national power supply, says regulator

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has said that there will be no moratorium or radical policy changes when it comes to data centres.

In its directions to Eirgrid and ESB Networks regarding data centres, the CRU said that going forward, applications to connect to the national electricity grid will be assessed based on location and ability to provide onsite power supplies if needed.

Furthermore, any successful applicants will also need to be able to reduce consumption when requested to do so if the system is under constraint.

It follows concern about the State's ability to meet a surge in demand due to the connection of data centres to the national electricity grid.

Earlier this year, Eirgrid warned of possible shortfalls over the next five winters unless it boosts supply.

Over the past four years, demand for energy from data centres has increased annually by 600GWh, which is the equivalent of adding 140,000 households to the power system each year.

According to the CRU, the increased demanded by data centres poses a significant challenge to Ireland’s electricity network and security of supply if left unaddressed.

The regulator said that assessing connections based on ability to provide mitigation "provides a balanced response that presents the data centre industry with an opportunity to grow, while addressing this inherent challenge".

Commenting on the announcement, CRU Commissioner Jim Gannon said: “We thank all stakeholders and industry for their consultation responses, and believe the decision announced today provides a very clear direction for the data centre industry and importantly accommodates growth in the sector while maintaining a responsible and balanced approach to Security of Supply.

“The assessment criteria provides a number of options for data centre operators to bring solutions for all future applications in terms of their own low carbon generation and reducing consumption when that is required.”

Any new applications by data centres to connect to the national electricity supply will be assessed by Eirgrid and ESB Networks based on the direction made by CRU.

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