Data centre electricity consumption increased 144% since 2015

The rate of metered electricity consumption by data centres in Ireland rose by 144 per cent between 2015 and 2020, new data from the Central Statistics Office showed.

Data centre electricity consumption rose 193 per cent between the first three months of 2015 and the last three months of 2020.

The analysis, the first time the CSO has ever released figures on data energy consumption specifically, showed that data centres accounted for 5 per cent of Ireland’s metered electricity consumption in 2015, and that this rose to 11 per cent of total energy consumption by 2020.

Ireland’s metered electricity consumption increased by 10 per cent, or 2,456 Gigawatt hours, between 2015 and 2020, 1,783 Gigawatt hours of which was attributed to data centres, or 73 per cent.

Rural dwellings in Ireland, for comparison, account for 12 per cent of all metered electricity use, while urban dwellings accounted for 22 per cent.

“This is the first time the CSO has published figures on electricity consumption by data centres,“ said Niamh Shanahan, statistician in the environment and climate division of the CSO. ”The report shows the total metered electricity consumption by data centres from 2015 to 2020 [increased steadily] from quarter to quarter. The increase in consumption was driven by a combination of existing data centres using more electricity and new data centres being added to the grid.“

Data centre electricity consumption in Ireland has been the subject of contentious debate in recent months.

Eirgrid, the state-owned electricity firm, announced an effective moratorium on greenlighting new applications to build data centres in the Dublin region until 2028, citing severe electricity capacity constraints.

The move came following a data centre consultation by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which, though it did not recommend a moratorium explicitly, advised that there should be conditions for data centres to connect to the grid, including building their own back-up power supplies on site.