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Key Findings

Electricity consumption by data centres has risen by 144% between 2015 and 2020

CSO statistical publication, , 11am

Key Findings

  • Electricity consumption by data centres increased by 144% between 2015 and 2020. The increase between January to March 2015 and October to December 2020 was 193%.

  • The percentage of metered electricity consumed by data centres rose from 5% in 2015 to 11% in 2020. This was an increase of 1,783 Gigawatt hours between 2015 and 2020.

  • Total metered electricity consumption increased by 10% or 2,456 Gigawatt hours between 2015 and 2020.

  • Quarterly metered electricity consumption by data centres increased steadily from 290 Gigawatt hours in the first quarter of 2015 to 849 Gigawatt hours in the fourth quarter of 2020 (see Table 2 and Figure 2).

Statistician's Comment

Niamh Shanahan, Statistician in the Environment and Climate Division of the CSO, noted that: "This is the first time the CSO has published figures on electricity consumption by data centres. The report shows the total metered electricity consumption by data centres by quarter for the period 2015 to 2020. Data centre consumption increased from 290 Gigawatt hours in January to March 2015 to 849 GWh in October to December 2020. Figure 2 shows a steady increase from quarter to quarter. The increase in consumption was driven by a combination of existing data centres using more electricity and new data centres being added to the grid.

The CSO published an additional new release today showing total metered electricity consumption. The percentage of total metered electricity consumption accounted for by data centres increased from 5% in 2015 to 11% in 2020.

Electricity customers with very high consumption accounted for 21% of total metered consumption in 2020."

CSO Definition of a Data Centre

The CSO used various approaches to identify data centres: searching for names and aliases of known data centres; examining customers with high consumption located in specific business parks; and checking the customer names of all meters with a high annual consumption. Reports produced by other organisations, the CSO Business Register, and internet searches were also used.


Table 1 Metered Electricity Consumption 2020
 Gigawatt hours% of Total
YearData CentreOther Metered CustomersTotal% Data Centre
% Consumption by Data Centres
Table 2 Data Centres Metered Electricity Consumption by Quarter 2020
 Gigawatt hours
X-axis labelData Centres Consumption
Q1 2015290
Q2 2015302
Q3 2015315
Q4 2015328
Q1 2016339
Q2 2016359
Q3 2016384
Q4 2016394
Q1 2017405
Q2 2017432
Q3 2017448
Q4 2017470
Q1 2018488
Q2 2018524
Q3 2018571
Q4 2018589
Q1 2019576
Q2 2019598
Q3 2019635
Q4 2019669
Q1 2020688
Q2 2020719
Q3 2020763
Q4 2020849

Go to: Background Notes