Republic of Ireland: TikTok requests clarification about Ireland's new data center policy statement

Sep 06, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

In Ireland, the data center expansion debate is bubbling over. A contentious matter in recent years, due to energy grid and environmental concerns, many have called for a moratorium or stricter rules around expansion. There has also recently been confusion around the country's new data center policy. Subsequently, social media giant TikTok warned the country that future investment in Ireland is "reliant" on the new policy document permitting the development of colocation facilities. 

The government's updated policy on the role of data centers within the country outlined that going forward, developments must have both economic and societal benefits that ensure efficient use of the grid by using available capacity and alleviating constraints while also increasing renewable energy usage. In addition to this, the statement outlined a preference for developments in locations where there's potential to co-locate a renewable generation facility, and data centers that demonstrate what it called "a clear pathway" to decarbonize and ultimately provide net zero data services. 

TikTok's public policy and government relations manager for Ireland, Susan Moss, subsequently wrote a letter addressed to advisers of Leo Varadkar, the Tánaiste, the deputy head of state, seen by  Business Post, which requested clarification around the policy, and made a recommendation around how the policy should be phrased. The letter stated: "In light of the pending policy document on data centers, TikTok would like to reiterate that our investment in Ireland and our potential for expansion, including the development of data centers on the Island, is reliant on colocation." Adding: "As such, we would not want to fall outside of the intended scope of the government's policy document on data centers where its prioritization was exclusively for owner-operators."

In response, the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, said Ireland's data center statement "does not make any distinction between owner operated or colocation data centers." Adding: "Both models are a feature of Ireland's existing data center landscape."