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Artist's impression of the proposed Ennis data centre

Public meeting to highlight planned Ennis data centre concerns


AN alliance of local activists and environmental groups is to hold a public meeting in Ennis this Wednesday evening to highlight opposition to the proposed data centre near the town.

The meeting will take place at 7pm at The Copper Jug Bar and Café (Courtview, Lifford, Ennis) to convey the group’s “deep concern” about plans by Art Data Centres Ltd. to construct a data centre on the Tulla Road, Ennis, which, they claim, will consume as much electricity as 200,000 homes – more than in Clare and Limerick combined.

A spokesperson for the group said, “The plans to build one of the largest data centres in the country here in Ennis brings with it an additional threat to the health of people here as the plans include a gas burning plant that will only make the air quality here worse than it already is, leading to asthma and other respiratory problems.”

Ruairí Ó Fathaigh, industry expert and Futureproof Clare member said, “The growth of data centres in Ireland is bringing our energy grid to crisis point while also sucking our aquifers dry to cool them down.

“The plans to build one of the largest data centres in the country here in Ennis brings with it an additional threat to the health of people here as the plans include a gas burning plant that will only make the air quality here worse than it already is, leading to asthma and other respiratory problems.”

Fathaigh added, “At no point is the question asked why are we allowing our natural resources and our health be put on the line for a few measly jobs to support advertising and surveillance industries when the parts of the internet people actually enjoy like communicating and sharing with their friends and family can be done using a fraction of the current data centres here, let alone require the doubling of them.”

Futureproof Clare doesn’t believe that this development should be granted planning permission for a variety of reasons. The Commission for Regulation of Utilities’ (CRU) now requires data centres to produce enough energy for their own needs onsite, but the planned data centre can’t do that. The development is projected to consume more electricity than Clare and Limerick city combined (120MW or equivalent to 200,000 homes).

The group says the massive generation expansion to support data centres “is only making a transition to renewables harder”.

“Over the past four years, demand for energy from data centres has increased annually by 600GWh which is the equivalent of adding 140,000 households to the power system each year.

“The development will place immense strain on the already pressurised national grid. Data Centres now consume 14 per cent of Ireland’s energy demand. Data centres use up a considerably higher share of electricity in the State than in other countries.

“A 2020 European Commission put average data centre usage in 2018 at 2.7 per cent of electricity demand, compared with 14 per cent in Ireland. Eirgrid, the national grid operator, raised serious concerns about their ability to provide energy for the entire country, saying that the facilities will account for 33% of all electricity consumption by 2030.”

As well as air quality issue and energy consumption, the group claims the centre would use an enormous amount of water and also yield little in the way of high value employment, as it being claimed by the development’s supporters.

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