According to data from the Central Statistical Office of Ireland (CSO), data centers in the country now use more energy than all rural housing (12%) and are approaching urban housing (21%).

The National Planning Framework, published by the Irish government in 2018, defines “rural areas” as all areas outside cities with a population of less than 10,000 – although there are other definitions. The CSO itself classifies rural areas as any settlement with a population of less than 1,500.

By any definition, Ireland has a large rural population: around 31.4% of the population lives outside urban areas, according to the CSO in 2019, although according to other indicators it is over 36%. This is well above the EU average of 27.3%.

How do data centers draw enough power to overshadow the needs of more than 1.5 million people? This is a combination of existing and new facilities being added to the grid, but the CSO claims that only a small number of Ireland’s approximately 70 data centers are responsible for most of the electricity use.

Attractive island

A combination of factors attracts internet giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Meta in Ireland. Skilled workforce, modern infrastructure and access to renewable energy, as well as government incentives as a low tax rate, are all parts of the picture.

And these multinational companies are not ashamed to invest. According to the Host industry group in Ireland, 10 new centers appeared online in 2021s € 7 billion spent on them over the last decadeand the same amount is again expected to be spent over the next five years.

These include two new facilities from Microsoft and two more from Amazon, all in and around Dublin. In February, the state energy company EirGrid put a ban for all other data centers connected to the Dublin area by 2028

And EirGrid expects demand to continue to grow: data centers can be responsible for up to 29% of Ireland’s total electricity consumption by 2028

The good news is that while data centers in Ireland consume a lot of energy (more than 1,000 GW in Q4’21), they represent only a small part of the country’s carbon production. According to Host, data centers in Ireland produce only about 1.85% of the country’s carbon footprint, thanks to the use of renewable energy.

On top of that, IT workloads continue to be more efficient. This is shown by the International Energy Agency data centers account for about 1% of the world’s total energy consumptionbut thanks to efficiency improvements, their consumption has increased by only about 10% in the last 10 years – although total workloads have increased by more than 9 times since 2012.

https://www.computing.co.uk/news/4049204/ireland-centres-consume-power-entire-rural-population

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