Vampire-themed data centres protest and walking tour from Amazon to Misery Hill this Sunday

Amazon complex in Dublin would consume almost 7% of Ireland’s electricity and produce 1% of our carbon emissions

A data centre vampire protest at Meta HQ in Dublin in October 2021

Author and researcher Dr Conor McCabe will be among the speakers at a vampire-themed walking tour and protest against data centre expansion in Dublin this Sunday, 21st May, 2023.

The protest, organised by anti-capitalist climate action group Slí Éile, will start at 2pm outside Amazon’s HQ on Burlington Road, and finish at Meta’s offices on Misery Hill, next to Grand Canal Quay. Music, theatre and a walking tour will highlight the reality of Ireland’s data centre sector as a new form of colonialism.

Protesters are encouraged to wear vampire-themed fancy dress to symbolise Big Tech’s devastating drain on Ireland’s energy and water caused by the insatiable growth of data centres.

In January, Amazon applied for planning permission for another three data centres at its Mulhuddart complex in Co Dublin, where it already has three data centres. If all six become operational, the complex would consume a staggering 6.75% of Ireland’s current electricity demand.

The amount of electricity used annually by Amazon at Mulhuddart, 1,925 gigawatt hours, would be more than the annual consumption of 500,000 homes, or a quarter of the country’s housing stock, and would account for 1% of Ireland’s current greenhouse gas emissions.

William Hederman of Slí Eile said: “At a time when energy security fears are being used as justification to push for climate-wrecking LNG terminals, such as Shannon LNG, every new data centre makes us more energy insecure, more reliant on imported fossil fuels, increases the risk of electricity blackouts and pushes our climate emissions ever higher.”

Ireland has the world’s highest percentage of electricity consumption from data centres, which in 2021 stood at 14% of electricity produced, more than that consumed by all of Ireland’s rural homes. This was almost three times higher than in 2015 (5%).

Eirgrid has predicted that data centres will consume up to 30% of Ireland’s electricity by the end of the decade, unless a moratorium on new data centres is introduced. By comparison, the Netherlands has the EU’s next highest percentage of electricity going to data centres, at 6%.

While the tech giants have publicly linked their operations with new renewable energy projects, in reality the soaring growth of data centres in recent years has resulted in a sharp increase in coal-burning at Moneypoint in Co Clare and the building of new fossil gas-burning power stations.

The 32% increase in electricity consumption by data centres from 2020 to 2021 corresponded with coal’s share of electricity generation increasing from 5% in 2020 to 11% in 2021, adding 2.3 million tonnes to Ireland’s climate emissions.

Eurostat figures this week showed that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions soared by 12.3% in the final quarter of last year, compared to 2021.

Meta’s data centre in Clonee, Co Meath, which uses as much power as 150,000 homes, was undercharged for its electricity for 18 months due to a “connection error” at an ESB Networks substation. By comparison, in 2019 more than 5,000 disconnections for electricity were carried out, mostly for unpaid bills.

The Clonee data centre also used 928,000 cubic metres of water in 2021, equivalent to the water usage of a town of 20,000 people, such as Mullingar.

Slí Eile is the main organising group for Ireland’s Climate Camp, which this year will take place near Manorhamilton in Co Leitrim from 9th to 13th August.