Nov 24, 2021
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) confirms criteria for processing data centre grid connection applications.
In our June 2021 report we outlined the EirGrid Data Centre Connection Offer Policy and Process (DCCOPP). At the time, CRU was responding to a warning of impending grid crisis due to rising data centre demand. It had published its minded-to position, seeking feedback to an industry wide consultation.
EirGrid’s recent grid capacity statement predicts continued rapid electricity demand to 2030. Meanwhile, CRU announced a programme of actions to address security of supply issues. Procurement of emergency generation and extending the availability of soon to retire generation capacity are proposed. Now it has communicated to EirGrid and ESB (the “SOs”) the criteria for assessment of data centre connection applications.
"CRU is acting in accordance with its duty to protect security of supply while ensuring that reasonable demand for electricity is met through the introduction of assessment criteria."
This much anticipated direction leaves data centre developers with important decisions to make on whether, where and how to progress their projects.
Decision and direction on assessment criteria
As expected the CRU decided against its considered alternative options of ‘doing nothing’ or applying a moratorium to data centre demand applications.
CRU instead directs the SOs to assess applications for the connection of data centres by reference to the following assessment criteria:
whether or not their location is in a constrained region;
ability of the data centre to bring onsite dispatchable generation (and/or storage) equal to or greater than their demand to support security of supply;
ability of the data centre to reduce consumption by using onsite dispatchable generation (and/or storage); and
ability of the data centre to reduce consumption when requested to do so.
Prioritisation of applications
The CRU initially envisaged that applications might be prioritised by reference to the criteria. Now it says applications can be terminated on the same basis.
Applications, including those currently in process, must be measured against the assessment criteria. Any deemed by the SO as inconsistent with the needs of the electricity system may be terminated.
The assessment criteria are not ranked. The SOs are to assess each application on its own merits, having regard to the dynamics of their respective systems. However, the CRU does direct SOs to consider the location of the data centre first, before processing its application further.