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The Irish datacentre industry must throw its full weight behind initiatives geared towards bolstering the sustainability of the country’s electricity grid or risk losing its position as one of Ireland’s largest export industries.
The warning features in a new report by Irish datacentre market champion Host In Ireland, which details the work the Irish government is doing to improve the environmental friendliness of the country’s electricity grid, as it works towards it goal of having 70% of the grid powered by renewable sources by 2030.
“That is no small feat, and there is certainly much more work to be done, but it does showcase how organisations can come together to make a difference,” wrote Host in Ireland founder Garry Connolly in the foreword to the report.
“The electrical generation and distribution companies and their customers – including large-scale electricity users like datacentres – need to be aligned to make this happen.”
The report notes that there are now 70 operational datacentres in Ireland, and in the decade to 2020 the amount of money spent on building server farms in the country totalled €7bn. The same amount looks set to be invested in similar activities over the next five years.
The country’s position as a burgeoning datacentre hub has, however, previously prompted capacity concerns from planning and engineering experts about whether or not its electricity grid can cope with the impact all these developments are likely to have.
There have also been concurrent concerns about the how much of this power is likely to come from renewable sources, as sustainability has emerged as a top-of-mind concern for both datacentre operators and their clients in recent years.
Read more about the Irish datacentre market
- Ireland’s growing prominence as a European datacentre hub is continuing apace, with research showing that the market is now receiving up to €1.3bn of inward investment each year from server farm operators.
- Ireland has emerged as an accommodating host to many of the global hyperscale community’s major players in recent years, with the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft collectively investing billions of pounds in building datacentres on the island.
According to Connolly, Ireland has plans in place to address these issues that will serve to ensure the electricity grid benefits from more design and operational changes over the coming decade than it has over the past 80 years.
“The engineers are innovating, designing and exploring new ways to not only decarbonise the grid, but create a prosumer-led one that will allow users to also become suppliers,” he said.
“Ultimately, it is going to require a greater level of collective purpose between the electricity producers and the emerging data-led industries to not only co-exist, but benefit from each other.”
This is something the country’s datacentre community needs to get involved with, he added. “Now it’s time once again for the datacentre industry to be brave, creative and relentless to meet this challenge.
“The ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ mindset is not going to maintain and grow one of Ireland’s largest export industries. So the more relentless we are today, the more we will reap the benefits and define the success of the industry in the years to come.”
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