New bill proposes ban on all new data centres in Ireland
The Irish data centre industry could be in trouble. A new bill proposing a complete ban on new data centre developments, as well as Liquid Natural Gas plants, and new fossil fuel-related infrastructure, was introduced to parliament this week.
The bill is an amendment to the Planning and Development (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill 2021, and is currently in its first stage. Deputy Brid Smith launched the motion on Wednesday, drawing attention in her motion to recent research published by Ireland’s Marine Institute, which revealed that, “the target of reaching a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 51% by 2030 cannot be met if we continue to facilitate the growth of data centres in this country.”
Smith continued: “Real climate action can’t happen if we are simultaneously planning to have over half of any increase in renewable energy swallowed up by mega data centers by 2030. We can’t reach our commitments under Paris and pretend that we can allow 100 plus data centers over the next decade. Other states and cities have also looked to impose restrictions on their growth, we must act now if we are serious about the climate emergency.”
If initially successful, the amended bill will need to pass a further four stages of approval in order to be signed into law by the President. It potentially represents the harshest measures taken so far against an industry that faces increasing scrutiny for its consumption of energy and water in Ireland and beyond.
The Irish data centre industry currently comprises more than 35 colocation and hyperscale facilities, as public cloud services have grown in popularity throughout the country. By 2025, the Irish data centre industry is estimated to be worth over $3bn a year.
Irish utility firm EirGrid also revealed in a recent consultation that it may have to begin prioritising data centre project approvals in areas where the infrastructure doesn’t represent a strain on local renewable energy reserves. That could, according to a spokesperson for the firm, mean denying more than 30 proposed data centre projects currently seeking regulatory approval, as well as a growing trend of data centres being built farther afield from Dublin, towards Ireland’s West Coast.
In an interview with Irish newspaper, the Dáil, earlier this week, Smith called a future in which Ireland continues to build enough renewable power infrastructure to support the current rate of growth in the data centre industry, and meets the Irish government’s target of generating 70% of its electricity from renewables by 2030, “a fantasy,” adding that “Data centres are not essential for the future of our economy or our society. They are not great investments and they are only essential as a component of an economy built and structured on the needs of the corporate sector.
Microsoft hyperscale plans prompt Lab3 New Zealand launch
Lab3, an Australian cloud migration specialist, has announced it is launching in New Zealand after being prompted by a surge in demand for cloud services and Microsoft’s investment into hyperscale data centres.
The company, which was founded in 2017, has appointed David Boyes as Chief Executive Officer and Rich Anderson as Chief Operating Officer. According to Companies Office records, Boyes and Anderson each have a 10% share in Lab3’s New Zealand business. Commenting on cloud migration, Boyes said: “Across New Zealand, in government and every industry sector, organisations are looking to migrate to the cloud to modernise their technology environments.” He added that the Coronavirus pandemic was fuelling a “ need to tap into the power of data, facilitate remote work and meet public expectations of a virtual world.”
Chris Cook, Group CEO of Lab3 said the business was "first and foremost about client success" which drives the company’s product innovation and motivation to expand into New Zealand. “We look forward to working closely with Microsoft to deliver more for New Zealand clients,” he said.
Microsoft’s New Zealand hyperscale data centre investment plan
Microsoft’s investment into a hyperscale data centre region in New Zealand meant the resulting facilities will aim to provide several organisations with access to the security and scalability of a public cloud without sending data offshore.
Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, said: “We’ve seen a tremendous acceleration in cloud migration over the past year as organisations have responded to global disruption and conversely, recognised the global opportunities a digital operation brings.
“Our research with IDC shows public cloud technologies are set to create 102,000 local jobs and add [NZ]$30 billion to the New Zealand economy over the next four years, so we’re delighted to welcome a partner of LAB3’s calibre to New Zealand, to help more organisations realise those gains even faster," she added.
Lab3’s clients include several fintech organisations, a global software vendor, Australian federal and state government agencies, and insurance and banking corporations. The company employs over 200 staff and has three advanced specialisations across migrations, Azure virtual desktop, and security.