By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland could face a power shortage over the next five winters, unless it increases supply to meet an unusual increase in demand, mainly due to power centers. energy-intensive data, the country’s electricity grid manager warned on Wednesday.

Ireland, which experienced record electricity demand last winter, is expected to see demand over the next decade increase by 28% in a median scenario to 43% if demand is higher, according to the forecast. network manager, EirGrid.

By comparison, demand in Northern Ireland, which operates in the same wholesale electricity market, is expected to increase by 5-15%.

Ireland’s increase will be driven by the expansion of large energy users, especially data centers, he said. Ireland is one of the largest data centers in Europe with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook all storing data in a country where they are also among the largest employers.

In its midpoint scenario, EirGrid said data centers could account for 25% of all demand in Ireland by 2030, up from 11% currently.

The tight supply has led opposition parties to call for a break on data center expansion.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan rejected those calls on Wednesday, but said center operators would be urged to meet legally binding carbon emissions targets that are expected to be set by the government in the coming weeks.

The Irish Utilities Regulatory Commission (CRU) will also release a new connection policy for data centers next month, which it said on Wednesday would include more on-site production and reduced demand for data centers. rush hours.

The CRU has called on the government to increase supply in several ways, including procuring new gas capacity, emergency generators and temporarily extending the operation of older, more expensive factories that emit more carbon. .

As a result, consumers may have to pay more, said CRU commissioner Jim Gannon.

European households are already facing much higher bills due to soaring gas prices. Ireland has also been hit by the lowest wind levels in decades, poor plant performance and limited support from Britain’s interconnections, EirGrid said.

“It’s going to be tough over the next three to four years, but we can and will handle it,” Ryan, who is also the leader of the Green Party’s junior coalition, told Newtalk radio station when he was told. asked if Ireland is facing power outages.


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