Why you should build your data center in Ireland

illustrations illustrations illustrations illustrations illustrations illustrations illustrations

Published on 29 June 2023 by Andrew Owen (4 minutes)

There has been a lot of talk in the Irish press this month about the fact that the government doesn’t seem to know how many data centers are present in the country (it’s thought to be around 28). The concerns are mainly around the ability of the grid to support the electricity demand. Ireland should already have offshore wind farms that generate surplus energy, but nothing happens fast here. The suggested alternative is Iceland, which runs entirely on renewable energy and has a fast data link with Denmark. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull is now a fleeting memory of the before times. But do you really want to store your data exclusively on an island known for its volcanism?

I know a little bit about data centers because I had to research them for two almost identical tech writing jobs I applied for. Although I got on-site interviews both times, they went with other candidates. I’ll leave you to speculate which of the big three cloud players I haven’t interviewed with. One of the tasks I was given was to write a high-level summary providing the costs, benefits, and risks associated with two popular data center cooling system designs. It’s quite short, so I’ll reproduce it here.


Although cooling systems are only one element of data center design, they can represent as much as 18 percent of the monthly data center running costs. The choice of cooling system should take into account the intended use of the data centers. However, for brevity this report is limited to the following considerations:

  • Reducing cost
  • Increasing reliability
  • Reducing power consumption

Cold Aisle Containment

Typically, server racks are arranged in rows so that racks are face to face, or back to back. This creates separate aisles for taking in cold air and expelling hot air. Cold aisle containment aims to physically prevent cold and hot air mixing. Containment can be implemented using inexpensive materials such as PVC panels. A raised floor can be used to supply air to the cold aisle to increase cooling efficiency. This can enable the temperature of cold air input to be raised from around 13 ºC to 18 ºC or higher and cut power consumption by up to 16 percent.

Free Air Cooling

Because of increased acceptable operating temperature and humidity ranges for data centers, more use can be made of outside air for cooling. Free air cooling does not eliminate, but can significantly reduce, the need for computer room air conditioners (CRACs). A suitable environment has air that typically remains below 25 ºC and low moisture levels. A slow moving rotary heat exchanged can be used to reduce air transfer to the data center to one percent or less without causing reliability concerns.


Cold aisle containment is an ideal solution for renovating existing data centers to maintain required temperatures and reduce power consumption and cost of ownership where free-air cooling is not an option. When combined with a raised floor cold air supply, it is a suitable solution for environments where the outside air does not meet the temperature, humidity, or particle requirements for cooling.

Free-air cooling is an excellent choice for new data centers to reduce construction and running costs by reducing the need for air cooling, providing air quality requirements are met. Where existing data centers are located in a suitable environment, conversion to free-air cooling is recommended.


The maximum temperature range recorded in Iceland is +30.5 °C to −39.7 °C. For Ireland, the range is +33.3 °C to −19.1 °C. Moisture levels for both are about the same across the year. And Ireland has no active volcanos. I’m not saying I wouldn’t put a data center in Iceland, but if I did, I’d want a backup in Ireland. But the decision may simply come down to the need to locate within the EU borders for compliance with general data protection regulations (GDPR).