Call for moratorium on data centres after Amazon projects approved in Dublin

Dublin City Council approved an application by Amazon for permission to construct two new data centres in north Dublin
Call for moratorium on data centres after Amazon projects approved in Dublin

Vivienne Clarke

A Social Democrats TD has called for a moratorium on data centres until their impact on the national electrical grid and the price of electricity can be determined.

Jennifer Whitmore, the party's spokesperson on climate, was commenting on plans by Amazon for two data centres in north Dublin despite objections from environmental groups.

Dublin City Council approved an application by Amazon for permission to construct two new data centres on a site in Clonshaugh Business and Technology Park. A division of the US multinational, Amazon Web Services, already has a data centre at the same location.

Amazon has estimated that between 15 and 58 staff will work at the data centres over a 24-hour period, while up to 400 staff will be employed during the construction phase of the project.

Ms Whitmore told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the Government had “essentially rolled out the red carpet” for data centres claiming that they would create jobs.

The Government was not managing the situation strategically, she said. While some data centres were better than others by using renewable energy, any extra energy should be going to homes and small businesses.

The rights of citizens had to be considered and there was also a reputational risk to the country, warned Ms Whitmore. “If we can’t keep the lights on, who will invest here?”

The IDA had already expressed concern about energy security, she added. The Government needed to be strategic about the issue and not undermine energy security.

Official figures show data centres accounted for 14 per cent of all electricity demand in the Republic last year with Eirgrid estimating they could account for 29 per cent by 2028.

Members of South Dublin County Council are currently locked in a row with the planning regulator after they imposed an effective ban on all future developments of new data centres in its administrative area.

Earlier this year Eirgrid said it would not be providing any new grid connections for data centres in the Dublin region until 2028 due to capacity constraints.

However, the Commission of Regulation of Utilities ruled out a moratorium on new data centres saying the location of future facilities and their ability to generate their own power supplies would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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