New data centres in Dublin face power connection delay

10 June 2021 | Antony Savvas

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Up to 30 data centres in development in the Dublin metro area could struggle to get connected to the grid, after the Irish utilities regulator ordered power delivery firms to prioritise connection applications for data centres outside the capital.

There is ongoing concern that Dublin may one day not be able to keep up with the power demands of the city's burgeoning data centre industry.

As part of a consultation process launched this week into power availability for data centres, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) in Ireland has told national grid manager Eirgrid and ESB Networks to put new data centre builds outside Dublin at the front of the queue when it comes to getting switched on.

Eirgrid is said to have agreements in place to connect around 30 Dublin data centres to the national electricity grid, requiring total power of approximately 1,800MW. In addition, there are other applications for data centre connections totalling 2,000MW in power.

For the whole country, Ireland has a peak power demand of 5,500MW.

According to data centre industry body Host in Ireland, there are 70 operational data centres in Ireland - offering around 900MW of capacity - with another eight under construction that are designed to offer a further 255MW. Ten data centres in Ireland have become operational in the last 12 months alone.

That 900MW is about 100MW higher than the capacity offered by London.

Construction investment in data centre facilities in Ireland totalled €7 billion in the decade between 2010 and 2020. The coming five years will see a further €7 billion of investment, based on data centres with approved planning permission.

The Host in Ireland/Bitpower figures project a further €1.33 billion in data centre construction spending in 2021, with the pace set to quicken after that.

On the perceived power problem, Eirgrid told The Irish Times: “The outcome of this consultation will provide clarity to Eirgrid and the data centre industry on next steps in terms of the future facilitation of data centres on the electricity system.

“We look forward to processing connection applications for data centres in line with the resulting policy once the outcome of this consultation is determined by CRU.”

Both Amsterdam and Singapore have recently moved to temporarily halt new data centre building in response to power and other development concerns, and Frankfurt has begun tightening up data centre building regulations.

One reason Dublin is so popular with data centre developers is because that's where all the established and superior fibre links are to enable intercontinental connectivity with the lowest latency. So moving more new builds further afield would mean some connectivity trade-offs unless national networks are upgraded faster.