Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
45. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the actions he is taking to ensure that data centres do not disrupt or damage electricity supply to homes given the recent pronouncements from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. [32263/21]
46. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which the transition to electric cars can be expected when the volume of data centres located in the State is threatening electricity supply to homes given the recent pronouncements from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. [32264/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 46 together. I propose to answer Questions 45 and 46 together.
The Government Statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy (2018) acknowledges the role of data centres as part of the digital and communications infrastructure for many sectors of our economy. The statement also notes that data centres pose considerable challenges to the future planning and operation of Ireland’s power system.
Ensuring a continued secure supply of electricity is vital for the proper functioning of society and the economy. It is also necessary to ensure people and business have confidence in switching to electrified solutions such as heat pumps and electric vehicles.
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has statutory responsibility, under S.I. 60 of 2005, to monitor security of supply of electricity and to
take such measures as it considers necessary to protect security of supply.
In this regard, on 8 June, the CRU published a proposed direction related to data centre grid connections. This direction, which is currently subject to consultation, proposes to prioritise the processing of data centre applications to connect to the electricity grid based on a number of criteria which are focused on security of supply. These criteria include location relative to grid constraints, ability to provide onsite dispatchable generation and/or storage and the ability reduce consumption when requested by the system operator.
My Department is also carrying out a review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems which is focusing on the period to 2030 in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway to net zero emissions by 2050. The review will consider the impact of increased electricity demand, including from data centres.