*Ruairi Fahy. Photograph: Natasha Barton

BLACKOUTS AND RESTRICTONS on energy usage are a potential consequence of a data centre being constructed, a local opponent to the project has claimed.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that date centres in Ireland accounted for almost 4,000 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of usage in 2021, out of total metered consumption of 28,500 GWh. That is an increase of 265% compared to 2015, when data centres consumed just over 1,200 GWh. The increase between 2020 and 2021 alone was 32%.

According to this official data, 14% of electricity used in the Republic of Ireland last year was by data centres.

Addressing a recent briefing by Futureproof Clare, Ruairí Fahy warned that that the construction of a data centre in Ennis brings with it “the possibility of blackouts and restrictions”. He cited the figure of 14% energy usage last year from data centres and said it was projected to reach 33% in the near future. “The nearest to that is Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands which have all brought in moratoriums on data centres”.

Data centres have “an inflexible load,” the Limerick man stated. “They always have to have energy going into it, to provide energy in that way if they ever go down they have to run harder to bring them back”.

An “increased strain” on the grid will occur if the proposed development does indeed proceed, Fahy claimed. “Planning was supposedly given because we don’t have a strain on the grid, we won’t have Tarbert or Moneypoint by 2030 but more and more fossil fuel has to be produced to run data centres”.

Ennis’ “already bad air quality” will be harmed, he remarked. “The idea it will be clean, healthy air and provide a lot of jobs doesn’t add up,” Ruairi said. He continued, “There will supposedly be 450 jobs in Ennis, there’s 70 nationally and only 400 jobs, a lot of the jobs are in call centres and low paid”. He believed the data centre in Ennis needed to be turned into “a public utility and let people have a say in what is run in it”.

Emanuela Ferrari of Futureproof Clare told the briefing they were “very concerned” with the decision to grant planning permission for the data centre. “Planning was given without enough consideration to public health. The air and climate issues were not fully discussed or considered”.

According to her colleague, Tim Morris, “misinformation” was spread about the development by the coalition in Government, Clare County Council and financial backers who he said are “misleading the public”.

Describing a worst case scenario, Ruairí said energy consumption will increase and diesel generators will be spinning more often.

A speaker from the floor living in The Burren shared how trees in the area were already damaged and referenced plans to extract water from Lough Derg to aid leakage issues in the capital while questioning the further impact of a data centre on the county’s water supply.

Replying to her queries, Ruairí mentioned the “extreme droughts” across Europe. “They are saying it will not be consuming much water but there is no way rainwater will cut it for the running of a data centre”.

Morris added, “water consumption is a major problem with the project. Irish Water doesn’t disclose commercial agreements so we don’t know how much water it will specifically consume. One Facebook data centre in Dublin consumed the equivalent of Kildare Town’s water demand for one year, this will be more”.

As the only politician to speak at the briefing, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) asked activists what they felt Clare County Council should be monitored in terms of air quality. “That question and the research accompanying the answer would have been very helpful prior to Clare County Council approving the development,” chairperson of Ecojustice Ireland, Declan Owens responded.

Fahy said there was “a huge monetary gain” for the local authority. “It goes back to how Councils have been under-funded for decades, they had more power before independence than they do now”.

Related News

glinsk heritage park 1
Outdoor infrastructure funding boost for three Galway communities
Ennis Community College Gaelcholaiste an Chlair
O'Donoghue leaving role as principal of Ennis Community College and Gaelcholáiste an Chláir
water station ennistymon 5
350 free water fountains to be installed nationwide
fiona levie holly cairns 1
Fiona 'bitten by political bug' but 'really disappointed' no woman elected in East Clare
Latest News
glinsk heritage park 1
Outdoor infrastructure funding boost for three Galway communities
clare v waterford 19-05-24 ken ralph 2
'We will drive on again' says Clare selector Ralph
Ennis Community College Gaelcholaiste an Chlair
O'Donoghue leaving role as principal of Ennis Community College and Gaelcholáiste an Chláir
clare v kilkenny minor 16-06-24 paul rodgers 1
Clare minors come out wrong side of extra time All-Ireland semi-final thriller with Kilkenny
water station ennistymon 5
350 free water fountains to be installed nationwide
Premium
fiona levie holly cairns 1
Fiona 'bitten by political bug' but 'really disappointed' no woman elected in East Clare
le24 election shane talty 2
Talty triumphant following 'ferocious election campaign'
clare v donegal 15-06-24 2 manus doherty
Drubbing from Donegal ends Clare's involvement in football championship
court 1
Woman with black eye in court tells judge assailant "needs help"
clare v tyrone 02-06-24 stephen ryan 5
Stephen Ryan to miss out on Clare's crunch tie with Donegal

Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

Scroll to Top