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Using Wind Energy to Meet Growing Energy Demand from Large Data Centres Will Lower Electricity Prices in Ireland, New study finds

01 April, 2015

Bringing a total saving of at least €43million per annum to all electricity system users

Using wind energy to meet the significant and growing electricity demand from data centres operated by global internet giants such as Apple, whilst also meeting Ireland’s 2020 targets, will reduce electricity prices in Ireland for both domestic and industrial consumers, according to a detailed new independent study by Pöyry, a leading international consulting and engineering consultancy, which was launched at the recent IWEA Annual Conference held in Dublin.

Apple’s recent decision to locate a new data centre in County Galway demonstrates that Ireland is increasingly seen as an attractive location for large data centres powered by renewable energy and the study, entitled “Future Wind Scenarios and Electricity Market Effect in Ireland”, states that this signals the potential for significantly enhanced demand growth for electricity in Ireland.

According to the study, 900MW of new demand from data centres, spread over three years, would result in a 20% increase in annual electricity consumption in Ireland between 2013 and 2020.  Ireland’s reliance on energy imports means that this demand growth could impose costs on the Irish electricity system and result in increased electricity prices, unless the demand is met by indigenous renewable energy sources, such as wind energy.

The study shows that meeting the growing data centre demand by using wind energy, whilst also meeting Ireland’s EU 2020 renewable energy target, would:

• Lower the wholesale price of electricity to more than offset the cost of integrating wind power onto the Irish grid network;
• Bring a total saving of at least €43million per annum to all electricity system users;
• Benefit each household in Ireland to the tune of at least €26 per year in 2020;
• Reduce carbon emissions by 2.6 mt CO2 per annum
• Reduce electricity sector emissions by 20% and bringing the sector’s annual emissions 18% below 2013 levels in 2020 resulting in a low carbon electricity system.

Speaking on the launch of the report, Kenneth Matthews, CEO of IWEA, said:

“The requirement for large scale data storage is growing year on year and data centres will be at the core of the 21st century economy. Given their considerable electricity consumption, Internet giants, such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Intel, are increasingly looking to power their data centres using clean and renewable power sources, which constitutes a massive opportunity for Ireland, which has clean wind energy in abundance.”

“This report confirms that wind energy is fast becoming a very important enabler in attracting new high tech foreign direct investment into Ireland and shows that Irish wind energy can play a key role in delivering a low carbon electricity system to help power the internet, securing investment and jobs, whilst at the same time reducing electricity prices for Irish business and domestic users.”

“We are confident of a significant growth in the number of Irish based data centres, such as the proposed €850m Apple facility in Athenry, in the coming years. This will bring significant economic benefit to the country, which will be compounded by the significant investment and impact wind energy development has on the economy in its own right,” said Matthews.

Another report compiled in 2014 by Pöyry and Cambridge Econometrics, a leading independent consultancy specialising in applied economic modelling, showed that if Ireland meets its 2020 targets using wind energy this will bring €3.5 billion of direct investment into the economy, contribute considerably to economic growth and provide at least €1.8bn additional cumulative tax revenue to the Irish State.


The 2015 Pöyry Consulting report entitled “Future Wind Scenarios and Electricity Market Effect in Ireland” can be found at the following link:




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