EAI welcomes the opportunity to respond to the CRU’s consultation on data centre grid connections. Data centres and cloud computing will enable greater digitalization of many aspects of society and the energy sector in particular. As large energy users their energy requirements have supported the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland but they also bring challenges to the system due to their significant requirements for constant levels of energy. However, these issues are not ones we consider to be unexpected. Increased growth in data centres has been forecast in previous reports published by EirGrid.
Further expansion of data centres has to be anticipated and planned for. The capacity market has to deliver the degree of capacity needed to meet this growth. The historical underestimation of the capacity requirement and the withholding of capacity due to demand uncertainty cannot continue in light of the demand projections outlined by the TSO. The Regulator must continue to evaluate, in consultation with providers and users, if there is a need to procure additional capacity to meet security of supply and demand requirements, in both the short and long term.
The wider societal costs of under-procuring capacity should be a key consideration in this evaluation. Appropriate assumptions around the inputs to the capacity requirement should be made, taking into account the particular characteristics of the all-island power system which is relatively small, isolated and highly constrained with a high penetration of renewables.