Following concerns that Irish data centre facilities could contribute to blackouts, Ireland energy regulator has issued new regulations for connecting data centres to the country’s electricity grid.

All future connections will depend on location, the ability to use back-up generators and the ability to reduce power consumption when requested.

The guidance will “provide clarity” for future and existing applications and decisions, the regulator reassures this measure is to “mitigates the risks to the electricity network”.

Now regulators have resolved that the ability of new data centres to deploy their own emergency power must be a key factor in deciding whether they gain access to the grid. Location must also be assessed, meaning new centres are unlikely in areas like Dublin where the network is constrained.

Companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have significant data centres in Ireland with more planned.

In September this year, the grid operator EirGrid forecasted electricity supply challenges in the next nine year, in part due to the growth of large energy users such as data centres. It predicts an increase of up to 43pc in demand for electricity by 2030, and says data centres could account for one-quarter of all power consumption by the end of the decade.

The regulator said that without a new policy there would likely be “a situation where demand would outstrip available supply at the peak and would result in load shedding and consumers facing rolling blackouts”.