Power shortages and the threat of rolling blackouts in Ireland likely means no new Microsoft and Amazon data centers. The Timesreported that a moratorium on new connections by Ireland’s state-owned electric utility EirGrid means a planned €2 billion data center expansion by the tech giants will be put on hold. The country’s existing data centers have already strained the nation’s power supply, which prompted Ireland’s utilities regulator last year to issue a warning that rolling blackouts were likely if the problem wasn’t solved. One planned Amazon Web Services site and two planned Microsoft sites (including one that was supposed to provide backup power to Irish windfarms) have not been granted licenses by EirGrid to connect to Ireland’s grid.
A spokesperson from EirGrid told the Times that since Ireland issued the moratorium on new connections to its electric grid last November, it had not authorized any new data centers. “EirGrid is now applying these criteria to all data center applicants, many of which have decided not to progress their developments,” a spokesperson said.
A source also told the Times that Amazon is building its data center in London instead. Meanwhile, Microsoft is exploring alternative locations in London, Frankfurt and Madrid.
The Times reviewed text messages between Microsoft’s head of public policy in Ireland and IDA Ireland (the government agency in charge of foreign investments) which indicated that Microsoft is aware it will be impacted by the moratorium. The company had reportedly been assured at one point that the policy wouldn’t affect its planned sites. “Despite all the assurances it still looks like a moratorium on DCs [data centres] in the GDA [greater Dublin area],” wrote Microsoft’s Ciaran Conlon to IDA officials.
Data centers consume an enormous amount of electricity, which have led to constraints on electricity grids all over the world. Officials even paused construction on new houses in West London until 2035 because data centers have already taken up the electricity capacity, reported Data Center Dynamics. Loudon County, Virginia, which is home to the largest concentration of data centers in the world, is delaying new projects because of power constraints.
Engadget has reached out to both Microsoft and Amazon for comment on The Times’ reporting, and will update if we hear back.