A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that data centres will consume 32% of Ireland’s total electricity by 2026.
In response to this, Mark Yeeles, Vice President, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric, UK & Ireland, looks at the wider economic, energy and technological landscape, including the role of data centres.
Mark says, the news that the new report from the IEA has found that data centres may consume up to 32% of Ireland’s total electricity consumption by 2026, comes as little to no surprise.
Right now, the general consumption of our data and digital habits – social media, email, businesses applications, streaming, gaming, scientific research, and enterprise – combined with the adoption of AI platforms, is compounding global data centre growth at a phenomenal rate.
To that effect, another recent study predicts that AI could be on track to consume as much electricity as the entire country of Ireland (29.3TWh per year), which is equally as troubling.
However, the misunderstanding of data centres’ role in the business, consumer and economic landscape, the services they enable, the value they add, and the industry’s position as critical infrastructure – that which all of us depend on each day – is widely misunderstood, and it’s clear we’re at a turning point for the sector.
Indeed, data centres provide one of the key solutions to solve the energy and climate challenges, and many operators locally are moving towards a prosumer model, helping to generate as much or more energy than they consume, and thereby reducing their demand on the grid.
To solve Ireland’s energy and ESG challenges, we need immediate, sustainable action, where government and industry collaborate more closely, and combine existing technologies with innovative engineering to future proof the country’s energy, economic, and technological outlook.
Mark emphasises that ultimately we must ask the question, can we live without data centres? The answer is no. Our lives are completely dependent on the digital services they enable. That does not mean, however, that we cannot make sure the industry serves business and consumer demand with sustainability front of mind, and he believes that at Schneider Electric, that approach is vital.
Looking forward, renewables and digitalisation are two of the key vectors to solve the climate and energy challenges, and by integrating data centre infrastructure with the grid, and using the industry as a catalyst for sustainable change, we can accelerate the production and adoption of green renewable power, and solve Ireland’s energy challenges simultaneously.