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Eamon Ryan says data centres are just a ‘short term problem’ for climate crisis until more offshore wind created

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Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan.

Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan.

Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has said the high energy usage from data centres in Ireland is just “a short-term problem” as when offshore wind at scale is developed this pressure will be alleviated.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), consumption by data centres rose by 32pc between 2020 and 2021, and the increase between January-March 2015 and October-December 2021 was 265pc. 

During an Oireachtas Climate Committee a couple weeks ago, Mr Ryan said there will be a significant reduction on data centre construction in the coming years but they will not be off the agenda indefinitely. 

On  RTÉ One’s Monday Night Live yesterday, the Environment Minister was asked if the Government is prioritising enterprise over emissions when it comes to data centres. 

"No, when this Government came to office, we actually stopped the open door policy to [data centres] because we realised there was a problem,” he said.

"It's a short-term problem. By the end of this decade, when we develop offshore wind at scale, which we will, then we will provide a mechanism where we can retain the jobs, retain those companies here and more important than that be a low-carbon location where they want to come.

"There aren't any new [data centres] being allowed at the moment, we can't offer any new data centres until we get agreement on how [the companies] provide backup renewable power that will complement the grid and strengthen our grid and that you locate the data centres in places where we can actually support them, in Dublin that is now limited.”

Mr Ryan added that in the future the data centres for these companies will be asked to locate in parts of the country where there is availability for offshore wind power. 

"We do need to balance it and reach a location of where the grid can manage it,” he said.

"These companies realise that no one gets knocked out of climate and no one can say ‘we don't play our part.’

"They have to go in a zero carbon direction just like everyone else, and that will take time.”

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