Data centers consume more electricity than all rural households after a 265 percent increase in consumption


Data centers have increased their power consumption by 265 percent in six years, new figures show.

Their electricity consumption increased by 32 percent in the last year alone, and they now account for 14 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption.

That’s more than all of the country’s rural households, which together consume 12 percent.

Their demand approaches the electricity consumption of all urban households, which together consume 21pc.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show a rapid increase in data center electricity demand since 2015, when it represented just 5 percent of national electricity consumption.

It grew to 6 percent in 2016, and by another percentage point each year until it rose to 11 percent in 2020 and then to 14 percent by the end of 2021.

Overall power demand across all sectors of society and the economy increased over that seven-year period, but data center growth accounted for 70 percent of the increase.

Niamh Shanahan, of the CSO’s Environment and Climate Division, said consumption measured the increase in gigawatt hours from 290 GWh in the first three months of 2015 to 1,058 GWh in the last three months of 2021.

“The increase in consumption was caused by a combination of existing data centers using more electricity and new data centers being connected to the grid,” she said.

Data centers have become a contentious issue, with the industry’s rapid growth at a time of tight energy supplies and high prices coming under fire.

Electricity consumption from other major energy consumers, including IT companies and cement manufacturers, is also increasing and together with data centers they account for 23 percent of the national demand.

Residential use follows population size, with demand being highest in Dublin and Cork.

But at the household level, there are differences from county to county. Kildare homes had the highest average annual consumption last year at 4,121kWh while Donegal had the lowest at 2,883kWh.

The main reason is the greater use of electricity for space heating in more urban areas as opposed to solid fuels in more rural areas.

The figures indicate a high number of vacant or little-used homes across the country.

More than 45,330 household meters recorded little or no electricity consumption over the past year, while another 165,000 used 1,000 kWh or less – well below the national median of 3,594 kWh.

The figures are based on data from 2,146,209 household meters. Data centers consume more electricity than all rural households after a 265 percent increase in consumption

Fry Electronics Team

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