Google warns of curbs for data center developments in Ireland

Google warned that any ban on developing data centers in Ireland should be avoided and would seriously hinder the country’s transformation to a digital and green economy.

In a detailed submission to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), the tech giant said any moratorium on data center development should be avoided “at all costs.”

Google said it would send the “wrong signal” about Ireland’s ambitions as a digital economy and risk hindering businesses from using cloud computing services.

Google said it wanted to continue investing in data center infrastructure in the country, but a moratorium would “make this impossible”.

The multinational warned that data centers in Dublin must be able to depend on access to the electricity network and that any “uncertainty” about this is “bad for business”.

Google said any changes to data center policy planned by CRU should be temporary as long-term solutions to Ireland’s electricity crisis were identified.

Electricity Capacity

In the filing, it called for greater transparency about where there was existing electricity capacity in the Irish grid, adding that there should be greater clarity and openness about Eirgrid forecasts on forecasting data center electricity consumption growth.

Google proposed a new pricing system for data center operators who reserved more capacity than they ultimately needed, or were too slow to grow to that capacity.

“Transmission charges can be designed so that consumers whose demand does not increase toward their maximum reservation are charged more than those who demonstrate growth each year,” it said.

The filing also said that while it understood the current problems with electricity supply in Ireland, they could be addressed with a longer term approach.

Google was particularly concerned about any plans to block the development of data centers on a regional basis or in Dublin, saying doing so would come at its own risk.

“Demand for cloud computing in Dublin is growing,” it said, “and many cloud services have to be delivered from data centers close to the user, i.e. these services cannot be delivered as required by customers from data centers that are far from Dublin.”

Delivery issues

Google said they would test a battery shortage on site at a data center in Belgium, but the technology was still in its infancy.

A separate submission from Amazon Web Services (AWS) said Ireland had missed opportunities to address delivery issues in the past.

“Over the past decade, there have been opportunities to deploy reinforcements, prepare the network for growth and investment, and equip the network for the integration of more intermittent sources.”

Amazon Web Services said they had explored suggestions that data center connections could be prioritized if they are located in areas where the power grid was “unlimited.”

However, it was “not certain” that such a site existed in Ireland, given national electricity supply restrictions.

They also said they could not support any move to make data centers dependent on fossil fuel generators for backup supplies.

The documents are among eight submissions considered confidential by the CRU, received last year as part of a consultation on data center development in Ireland. They have been released under Access to Environmental Regulatory Information.

However, the release of one of the submissions has been appealed by the unnamed company that sent it to CRU. Two others have been withheld for commercial reasons.

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