Due to power shortages and the threat of rolling blackouts in Ireland, new Microsoft and Amazon data centres are unlikely. The Times reported that a moratorium on new connections by Ireland’s state-owned electric utility EirGrid means a planned €2 billion data center expansion by the tech giants will be put on hold. The country’s existing data centers have already strained the nation’s power supply, which prompted Ireland’s utilities regulator last year to issue a warning that rolling blackouts were likely if the problem wasn’t solved. One planned Amazon Web Services site and two planned Microsoft sites (including one that was supposed to provide backup power to Irish windfarms) have not been granted licenses by EirGrid to connect to Ireland’s grid.
According to an EirGrid spokesperson, no new data centres have been authorised since Ireland imposed a moratorium on new connections to its electric grid last November. “EirGrid is now applying these criteria to all data centre applicants, many of whom have decided not to proceed with their developments,” a spokesperson said.
The Times examined text messages exchanged between Microsoft’s head of public policy in Ireland and IDA Ireland (the government agency in charge of foreign investments), which revealed that Microsoft is aware of the moratorium’s impact. At one point, the company was reportedly assured that the policy would not affect its planned sites. “Despite all assurances, it still appears that there is a moratorium on DCs [data centres] in the GDA [greater Dublin area],” Microsoft’s Ciaran Conlon wrote to IDA officials.
Data centers consume an enormous amount of electricity, which have led to constraints on electricity grids all over the world. Officials even paused construction on new houses in West London until 2035 because data centers have already taken up the electricity capacity, reported Data Center Dynamics. Loudon County, Virginia, which is home to the largest concentration of data centers in the world, is delaying new projects because of power constraints.