Irish Data Center Growth Places an Increased Focus on Facility Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources

By Garry Connolly, President and Founder, Host in Ireland

Headshot Garry Connolly

As Ireland continues to attract the world’s leading technology companies, we are now also starting to see the digital assets that support these organizations being housed here as well. Global Internet giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, TelecityGroup, Digital Realty, Citadel100, Dataplex, Interxion, and most recently Apple, with its €850 million data center in Galway, are all making large infrastructure investments in the region. The expansion of the Irish data centre sector is further assisted by the influx of Ireland – US submarine cable deployments from the likes of Aqua Comms Limited, Hibernia Networks, Viatel, Sea Fibre, and Zayo Group, which are all supporting companies’ continued growth in Europe as well as growing capacity needs across the Atlantic. Data centre growth in Ireland has successfully extended the global reach of organizations that currently call the country “home.” Moreover, it has had a profoundly positive impact on Ireland’s workforce and economy, attracting large corporations to the region in order to create new opportunity and help make the country an even more appealing location for companies to expand their digital footprint. So, what exactly is driving such rapid proliferation of data centre development in Ireland? A simple way to remember why Ireland has become a powerhouse in this space is based on what we at Host in Ireland call the 5 Ps: Policy, People, Pedigree, Pipes and Power.   Ireland’s political and economic stability, as well as public policy, provide an unprecedented framework for secure hosting of even the most sensitive data and information. The country’s pro-business political structure focuses on protecting corporate interests and offers a wide array of attractive tax benefits including a low corporate tax rate. Ireland’s workforce is also young, educated, uniquely affordable and highly ambitious. Furthermore, the IMD has ranked it first for flexibility and adaptability in its World Competitiveness Yearbook.   We also have an impressive 60-year history of developing, fulfilling and now hosting digital assets. Ireland is currently home to nine out of 10 worldwide Information and Communications Technology (ICT) corporations, nine out of 10 pharmaceutical corporations, three out of six top gaming companies, top 10 “born on the Internet” companies, more than 50 percent of the world’s leading financial services firms and 12 out of 15 global medical device companies.   Arguably the country’s most compelling feature in enabling and attracting data centre investment, however, is power. With a smart power grid that serves as the global exemplar and a commitment to securing 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, Ireland offers an impressive and highly affordable power solution to some of the world’s biggest energy consumers. Industry sources estimate that today’s data centres consume approximately 3 percent of global electricity and produce more than 200 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. The statistics are sobering, and as data centre size, scale and reliance continue to grow in the future due to the Internet of Everything (IOE), the Internet of Things (IOT), social media, big data and cloud computing, they will only continue to exacerbate.   As we surpass 8.6 zettabytes of annual global data centre IP traffic by the end of 2018, our demand for data centre and cloud-based infrastructures will be greater than ever. By 2018, more than 78 percent of workloads will be processed by the world’s cloud data centres. This data has data centre operators searching for more economical and environmental methods of powering their facilities as data centres increasingly become the backbone of our everyday lives. In Ireland, a popular solution to this challenge is the use of renewable sources of energy, including hydro, biomass, solar, tidal, wave and wind power. As a world leader in wind energy integration, Ireland has an installed wind power capacity of 2,281MW. Last year, this addressed approximately 18 percent of the country’s electricity needs, among the highest rates of global wind energy penetration.   As wind energy continues its growth throughout Ireland, it will offer both financial and conservational reprieve to the country’s exploding energy demand driven by large data centre development. According to EirGrid, the renewable energy source is expected to provide approximately 36 percent of the 40 percent required for Ireland to meet its energy goals within the next five years. To aid in achieving that goal, companies investing in Ireland are also placing an increased focus on building more efficient data centres.   As Ireland continues its growth as an optimum global data centre hub, it will continue to place a greater focus on facility efficiency and renewable energy sources in order to maintain its unprecedented fiscal and environmental appeal. With the support of the country’s global corporations and the sustenance of its 5 Ps, Ireland has always been and will continue to be an ideal location to host the world’s growing volume of digital assets.

This article was originally written for Irish Wind Energy Association newsletter.