DATA CRUNCH: Should high energy-consuming data centres remain a key plank of Ireland’s development strategy?
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The development of data centres is a key part of the government’s strategy for attracting foreign direct investment to Ireland.

They believe they raise our “visibility” internationally as a tech hub while also bringing economic benefits in the form of jobs, both in construction and after completion.

There are drawbacks, however, with data centres creating enormous pressures on the power grid at a time when Ireland is already struggling to meet targets on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The scale of power usage can be extraordinary - a proposed development by Amazon at Mulhuddart in Dublin will consume 4.4% of the state’s entire energy capacity.

The focus on creating more construction jobs may also be a double-edged sword as building inflation contributes to enormous cost overruns on projects like the National Children's Hospital.

In other countries, conditions for building data centres are more onerous and in the United States, some cities that fought hard for these developments have come to realise the economic dividends are not quite so extensive as they believed.

HELP US INVESTIGATE

We want to look deeper into an issue that divides opinions sharply.

On one side, opponents of data centres point to the meager amount of jobs left once construction is finished, the drain on energy supply, and Ireland’s already significant difficulties in meeting climate change targets.

On the other, supporters believe data centres bring not only jobs involved in their development, but also wider job creation from technology giants.

We want to look behind the scenes at government level and the IDA to see exactly what Ireland’s strategy is and whether it is changing amid environmental concerns.

We also want to examine the experience of other countries - particularly Denmark and the United States - when it comes to the development of data centres.

Are there lessons to be learned from their experiences?

Have you any information that you think would help this investigation, contact us at [email protected]

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