Renewables will be key to Ireland’s data centre growth

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Host in Ireland, a strategic global initiative created to increase awareness of the benefits of hosting digital assets in Ireland, has released a report on: Ireland’s Data Hosting Industry.

The research study, created in collaboration with Bitpower and partly funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, examines the opportunities and challenges associated with the digital asset hosting industry in Ireland.

The report also attempts to establish a baseline of the size, by category and sustainability, of Ireland’s data centre industry, addressing the scale of energy in use, requested and predicted over the period from 2017 to 2024. In 2016, the total energy use for all operational data centres in Ireland was estimated to be 1.40 TWh. Ireland’s total electricity use in 2016 was 27.6 TWh. By way of illustration, the world’s data centres used 416.2 TWh in 2016, of which Ireland’s data centre energy use represented 0.34% of the industry total.

By analysing the different types of data centres, and documenting the energy efficiency and best practices in data centre design and operations, the report will act as a useful reference for policymakers when looking to provide context to the growing global requirement for data centres, as a ‘Connected Planet’ becomes a reality.

“Data has a much higher economic value than the energy that powers it, and all stakeholders should recognise this when trying to evaluate the sustainability of the data centre industry in Ireland,” comments David McAuley, founder and CEO, Bitpower, and Host in Ireland Advisory Council member. “As Ireland’s Data Hosting Industry 2017 report indicates, collaboration between data centre operators, state utilities and agencies, and renewable energy developers will be key to maintaining Ireland’s position as a Tier 1 global location for hosting and participating in the next wave of growth.”

The report concludes that with 2,600MW of new wind farms in development and a similar amount of solar PV in the grid connection process, there is “sure to be sufficient new renewable energy capacity to feed the growth of the data industry, if these industries grow together as expected”.

Colocation providers were also asked why they chose to locate to Ireland. Some established a presence in Ireland in the late 1990s, and have steadily grown their business there. However, the main reasons cited for setting up in Ireland and Dublin, in particular, are:

  • Off-island fibre connectivity and the T50 (diverse Dublin fibre ring)
  • Clustering effect and critical mass
  • Power availability and reliability (not price)
  • Political stability
  • Accessibility
  • Open and transparent planning
  • An educated and native English-speaking workforce

Visit hostinireland.com

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