The Stack Archive News Article

Data centre influx squeezing Irish electricity network

Mon 2 Oct 2017

The surge in major data centres in Ireland is placing severe pressure on ESB, the country’s state-owned electricity company.

ESB has stated that it in order to meet demand from proposed data centres in the capital city of Dublin, it would have to more than double the existing supply of electricity.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, an ESB company spokesman said: “To put it into context, the current load in Dublin is around 1,200 mega volt-amps (MVA), which has grown over the last 90 years, and there is about 1,400 MVA in data centre applications and enquiries in train.”

As a result of increased demand, the company now considers the requirements of the data centres to be a ‘principal risk’ to its operations, alongside other factors such as severe weather, movements in energy prices, and the likelihood of poor financial performance forcing a credit downgrade.

Though a spokesman for the company confirmed that data centre planning applications that are currently in place ‘pose a challenge’ for ESB, he also insisted that it was a challenge it was rising to.

Ireland remains an attractive prospect for multinationals, and as such has seen an influx of data centre applications, including major builds by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

However, these companies have faced major delays in some instances, in particular Apple’s Athenry build, which has been held up for more than two years on the basis of an environmental complaint by residents.

The Irish government is in the process of creating a fast-track planning permission scheme to avoid similar delays, which is likely to put further pressure on ESB if more data centres are built. The company is in the process of building two new 220kV stations at Belcamp in North Dublin and at Grange Castle in West Dublin, alongside five existing facilities of the same size.

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