Data centres power usage up 32% in 2021 from 2020 – CSO

There has been a significant increase in the amount of electricity consumed by data centres in Ireland.

According to new figures from the Central Statistics Office, there was a 32.3% increase in electricity consumed by data centres in 2021 compared to 2020. The CSO attributes this to both more data centres being added to the grid and existing data centres using more electricity.

On a quarterly basis, the amount of electricity consumed by data centres between October to December 2021 has risen by 265% compared to January to March 2015. The total amount of electricity consumed rose by 5.4% last year. This has risen by 16% since 2015. Data centres accounted for 14% of all metered electricity consumed last year. In 2015, the corresponding figure was 5%.

Large users, which include data centres, accounted for 23% of energy consumed in 2021. Their consumption grew by 17% in 2021. It has risen by 80% since 2015, today’s CSO figures show. Non-residential consumption of electricity accounted for 67% of power used in 2021 with urban residential users accounting for 21% and rural residential users accounting for 12%. Last year, Eirgrid predicted that by the end of this decade, large users could account for 27% of electricity consumed. Eirgrid has recently placed a moratorium on plans for new data centres in the Dublin area as it seeks to spread their energy demands to different parts of the grid.


Mission possible: How start-up thinking can help public projects

The assumption that Government and public agencies lack the capacity for innovation and do not have an entrepreneurial-like ability to find novel solutions to major problems is a myth that needs challenging. However, a shift is required from “probability government”, overly focused on performance management and mimicking best practice, to “possibility government”, embracing greater imagination and risk.

That’s the view of Mitchell Weiss, former chief of staff of the mayor’s office in Boston and now Harvard Business School professor, as set out in his new book, We the Possibility. In it, he argues that some of the practices of lean start-ups can be applied to major public projects, ensuring better outcomes and smarter use of resources.

“It’s a myth that most entrepreneurs like risk and it would be a mistake to think the lesson of possibility government is to go out and seek it. The point is, rather, that risk is inherent in doing bold, new things and we need to encourage that in the public sphere,” he tells The Irish Times.

Weiss says we need to think differently about public projects. There is a tendency to spend large sums and too much time on planning and consultancy in an attempt to achieve optimum results. This attempt to de-risk can often have the opposite effect. Solutions are delayed, cost overruns occur, and the results often don’t align with the initial objectives.

Instead, he advocates a metered approach, with risk and its inevitable failures tolerated. Adopting the “make small bets” playbook from the lean start-up movement, Weiss suggests experimenting with multiple potential solutions, quickly abandoning what fails, adjusting what shows promise and scaling the things that are clearly working.