Report: ‘Hyperscalers’ using 80pc of Ireland’s data centre capacity

24 Nov 2020

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Host in Ireland’s second report of the year details that the country now has 66 operational data centres.

Data centre advocacy group Host in Ireland has published its second report for 2020, which said that while other areas of the economy have been hit hard by Covid-19, computing – and in particular data centres – has been left largely unscathed.

There are now 66 operational data centres in Ireland, of which 31 are operated by so-called ‘hyperscalers’ such as Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. This category of company, Host in Ireland said, makes up 80pc of the country’s data centre capacity.

The total capacity of the 66 centres amounts to 834MW, which the group estimated is 630MW of IT capacity running at 55pc utilisation.

The report said that over the course of this year, there has been a trend towards developing two- and three-storey data halls, with 29 data centres now approved with planning permission. One more centre – consisting of three buildings – is in the planning process and four data centres at one development are in appeal with An Bord Pleanála.

Host in Ireland estimated that construction spend on new centres will amount to €1.25bn for the year, which could increase to €1.5bn in 2021 and 2022. In total, the pipeline of new centres amounts to €6.7bn in construction between 2021 and 2025. By comparison, this is the same amount invested in data centre construction in Ireland over the past 10 years.

Within Dublin, there are 11 data centre buildings under construction with an average size of 27MW.

Electricity demand

Following the launch of its first report for 2020, the group claimed that CO2 from data centres will level off to just 2.2pc of the country’s total emissions by 2025. It currently estimates that data centre carbon emissions remain at 1.58pc of Ireland’s total.

In the report’s foreword, Host in Ireland president and founder Garry Connelly said that the Government’s aim to generate 9.2GW of renewable electricity by 2030 and exporting what the country doesn’t use is not the country’s best option. Instead, he said excess electricity should be focused towards powering future data centres.

Citing a recent Irish Academy of Engineering report that found exporting electricity can be economically challenging, Connelly said: “As we see with other natural resources, the value add of a data service is greater than the renewable electricity alone. Add to that, the infrastructure to move data already exists whereas the infrastructure to move the electricity does not.”

Ireland’s electricity grid operator, EirGrid, released a report earlier this year warning that by 2026, electricity demand driven by data centres and electric vehicles could exceed national supply. By 2029, the EirGrid report said, data centres could account for 27pc of all electricity demand.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic