back to article Irish power crunch could be prompting AWS to ration compute resources

Datacenter power issues in Ireland may be coming to a head amid reports from customers that Amazon is restricting resources users can spin up in that nation, even directing them to other AWS regions across Europe instead. Energy consumed by datacenters is a growing concern, especially in places such as Ireland where there are …

  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Irony

    Irish cloud affected by the clouds and the weather. But this was known over a decade ago when I was working in Ireland. It's the inevitable effect of relying on intermittent energy supply and relying on constant power. If Ireland can't spin up CCGTs to match all the CPUs being spun up, it's forced to rely on buying electricity via interconnectors, and if the UK's having the same weather, that gets expensive.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: Irony

      If I was building a Bit Barn, I'd put it West of Sizewell, Suffolk. The cloudy weather won't affect the constant carbon free power. Little chance of cables being blown down in a storm (as short distance - could even put them underground perhaps) and just up the A12 from Felixstowe where the servers and everything else can get shipped in from anywhere in the world. And plenty of smart techies locally from shrinking BT who would be looking for jobs.

      If Ireland don't want AWS, I'm sure England might.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Irony

        > If Ireland don't want AWS, I'm sure England might.

        A likely "benefit" of Brexit will be Britain removing its GDPR rules which will then lead to EU countries not wanting to host data in Britain. I assume the risk of this is already putting companies off investing in the UK...

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          > Britain removing its GDPR rules which will then lead to EU countries not wanting to host data in Britain

          But if it's Apple/Google/Microsoft then those massive data centers and servers in Britain are actually philosophically, legally (and taxably) in Dublin

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Irony

            In either case those servers are run by US companies and so fully accessible to US authorities…

            1. itguy

              Re: Irony

              Not if you encrypt everything and MS/AWS/etc can't get to the keys. ;-)

              1. hoola Silver badge

                Re: Irony

                Assuming you manage the encryption keys.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Irony

                  And never encrypt/decrypt anything except on prem :-)

              2. Martin M

                Re: Irony

                Until homomorphic encryption and/or secure enclaves are viable for normal workloads, the data is going to have to be decrypted before it is processed, and that means the key being in accessible RAM somewhere. So unless you don’t have to do any processing (e.g. password managers, which just pass opaque encrypted blobs to and from clients), encryption is not a panacea.

        2. two00lbwaster

          Re: Irony

          This shouldn't be the case we should be picking holes in the EU regulations and making them more stringent (and tell Europe you need to meet our regulations), but that's not what our governments seem to want to do with their new found freedoms (why make things better for everyone when you can make them worse for most and better for a few).

          1. Potemkine! Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            tell Europe you need to meet our regulations

            ROTFL! This was hilarious, thanks for this good moment.

        3. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          I think it is even more basic than the UK removing the GDPR rule, we are out of the EU therefore data residency applies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Irony

        Apparently plans to pylon over our countryside from the east coast to London to get the wind power in from the North Sea are already attracting opposition. Dunno why bit barns can't be built in East Yorkshire.

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          Just put the bloody things next to a nuclear power station was my point. Pretty much the closer the better. Doesn't have to be Suffolk, as long as there's plenty of fibre.

          Yorkshire would work also, I believe they are still part of the UK. East Yorkshire even has an accent where I can understand the words, unlike South Yorkshire.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            >Yorkshire would work also, I believe they are still part of the UK.

            North Yorkshire at least you would have nice stone built field bit barns. Tha might have to share them wi cows mind

            >I can understand the words, unlike South Yorkshire.

            Woz e sez abart t'arn ?

          2. Dave Null

            Re: Irony

            When you site a DC, you do a whole lot of worst-case thinking. This includes things like not building near fault lines, taking into account geopolitical potential in the area etc etc. Building next door to a nuclear power station adds a whole lot of potential worst case, whether from accident or military conflict. Not saying it won't happen, but you don't just plonk these things down next to the nearest cheap power if you're a major player.

            1. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Irony

              "Building next door to a nuclear power station adds a whole lot of potential worst case, whether from accident or military conflict."

              Nuclear power station footprints are, from an industrial installation perspective, pretty small. So one can be close-ish from electrical power carrying point of view without being that close (eg 10-20km). And newer designs are built to fail safe, they couldn't 'do a Chernobyl' if they tried*. As to military conflict, they are also very highly reinforced. Zapowhatevernaya (spelling??) in Ukraine has been shelled and rocketed a few times - certainly not ideal, of course, but it's kept structural integrity. (also, in case of military conflict, consider it quite likely that your bit barn will itself be a target, so wouldn't you rather be close to the power station and therefore covered by it's air defences??)

              *Also to note that Chernobyl 'did a Chernobyl' *exactly* because there was magnificent collective effort to screw it up, with multiple subsequent failures in design, training, planning, operations and emergency management.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Irony

                As to military conflict, they are also very highly reinforced. Zapowhatevernaya (spelling??) in Ukraine has been shelled and rocketed a few times - certainly not ideal, of course, but it's kept structural integrity.

                I just call that one ZPP to preserve my sanity. Plus it's a rather different design with a lot less containment building than our designs. Plus the drones Ukraine have been yeeting at it have a relatively small payload. And luckily whoever's programming their Stormshadows and similar haven't been letting the Ukranians lob one of those at the ZPP.. yet. However, this could be another good reason to build DCs around an NPP and provide a bit of an obstacle course for drones. I guess they'd also provide some additional shielding from any direct radiation exposure in the event of a breach in containment.

                1. anothercynic Silver badge

                  Re: Irony

                  Ukraine doesn't fire drones at Zaporizhzhia, a) because they know it's absolutely monumentally stupid to do so, and b) they'd like to actually have it back at some point in a working state when this war ends.

                  If anyone does stupid stuff, it's more likely to be Russia (even though they have control of the plant at the moment).

                  1. collinsl Bronze badge

                    Re: Irony

                    Plus it's good propaganda for Russia to fire something at the nuclear power plants, then go "OOO look Ukraine is shelling the power plants!" but because we all know it was Russia we also all know that Russia are stupid enough to do it in the future so they're betting no one will want to attack anywhere near the power plants in case Russia blows them up and blames it on Ukraine, which would be a disaster for everyone except Russia.

                    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                      Re: Irony

                      ...which would be a disaster for everyone except Russia.

                      Except it's a Russian built and controlled NPP sitting on Russian claimed territory. But this is the logic I'd expect when Russia is clearly winning this conflict. And Urkraine has given us the Goats of Kiev, the Heroes of Snake Island. And also according to it's WLB, Urkraine started the SMO with 1m troops, has gone through several rounds of mobilisation, has only lost 31k troops, and now needs to find another 500,000 recruits. Oh, and of course another $61bn, and everyone must given him Patriots, jets, missiles and whatever else the WLB demands. Oh, and of course give money to build targets.. I mean weapons manufacturing in Urkraine, which will be staffed by.. more ghosts? Ukraine's Pravda ran a story about the 1m+ people of fighting age who've fled the country and partying elsewhere, including ones like Klitchko's kids who are now apparently German citizens.

                      But that's politics for you. The fortunate sons and daughters get to party in safety, the Ukrainians who might be factory workers get sent to the frontlines to die. And 'Lord' Cameron just told American that this is good because America's fighting and killing Russians without losing a single soldier. Which along with demonstrating Cameron's morality, is also probably a lie given Americans have also been killed.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        If you don't come to Russia Today...

                        ...Russia Today will come to you.

                2. jmch Silver badge

                  Re: Irony

                  Firstly just to point out that it was the Russians shelling the plant back when they took control in 2022. As to the drones, Russia is claiming they are Ukrainian, Ukraine is claiming they are Russian, and while always being highly skeptical of any Russian claim, I have no reason to be any less skeptical of Ukrainian claims in this regard. Either way that's a bit off topic - the original point is the structural integrity of the reactors, and would it be risky to have a data center close by.

                  First note, while the plant was definitely shelled, I'm not so sure if there were any direct hits on the reactors themselves (although I believe I might have seen some grainy video of such, but that's 2 years ago already...). Secondly, the reactor housing of reinforced concrete is designed to withstand a light aircraft crashing into it. It can certainly withstand a drone. I would certainly feel safer close to a nuclear plant than an oil-fired one with a million-gallon oil store.

                  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: Irony

                    Firstly just to point out that it was the Russians shelling the plant back when they took control in 2022.

                    Citation needed. There have been various claims made, but also plenty of evidence that Ukraine has shelled and launched raids against the ZPP and support infrastructure over the course of the SMO. They've even attempted to justify it by claiming that because there are Russian defenders there, it's somehow a legitimate target. Plus Zelensky isn't really in control of his armed forces and there are a bunch of independent militias doing their own thing. It's a mess.

                    Either way that's a bit off topic - the original point is the structural integrity of the reactors, and would it be risky to have a data center close by.

                    I don't think it would be that risky. If there's ever a time when say, Russia, or even France starts yeeting ballistic missiles at Slough, then we're basically at war. An inability to produce powerpoints would be the least of our problems. A bigger risk would be idiots (aka terrorists) yeeting drones at them. Then the payload is a lot smaller and even if they hit a datacentre, probably wouldn't do that much damage. In the event of a reactor leak though, radiation would have to leave the building, and a metal clad bit barn would be adequate shielding. Then it's just operating in an exclusion zone, like Chernobyl where plenty of people work already. Get a badge, get your work done in say, <4hrs and it's all good.

                    First note, while the plant was definitely shelled, I'm not so sure if there were any direct hits on the reactors themselves (although I believe I might have seen some grainy video of such, but that's 2 years ago already...). Secondly, the reactor housing of reinforced concrete is designed to withstand a light aircraft crashing into it. It can certainly withstand a drone. I would certainly feel safer close to a nuclear plant than an oil-fired one with a million-gallon oil store.

                    Yep, see Buncefield and the impact on a DC that was close to the POL stores there. The drone strikes on the ZPP reactor have been confirmed by the IAEA though, along with minimal damage. But it's one of those issues that government needs to consider. DC's consume huge amounts of power. SMRs are a logical solution to generating that power, so it makes sense to collocate those. Give or take inevitable planning objections by the neo-luddites. Then it's a case of minimum containment standards for the buildings housing those SMRs. They're all designed to fail-safe anyway.

                    And it's not like 'renewables' aren't also potential hazards and targets. Grid-scale batteries catch fire on their own. That could be helped along by idiots with drones and fragmentation warheads. The battery packs aren't armoured, only weatherproofed. Then when they burn, they produce a lot of toxic chemicals like HF and heavy metal smoke that could directly harm via inhalation, or pose long-term risks by contaminating soil and water supplies. It's much the same with solar panels, especially disposing of those.

                    But see also-

                    https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/huge-fire-scots-battery-recycling-32542332

                    where residents were warned to seal their homes or evacuate due to the toxic smoke. How Green.

            2. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Irony

              In terms of conflict both the power generation and the datacentre are targets.

              One could argue that it is far easier and significantly less risky to wipe out the bit-barn than the nuclear facility.

              Given that there is zone & geo redundancy you have multiple targets anyway.

              Most countries could be brought to a complete halt now but just zapping 2 or 3 major cloud providers. Locations are know and the missiles accurate enough for there to be minimal collateral damage.

              One just hopes that Governments & the military have not put too much various clouds......

              Sorry, had trouble typing that without falling off the chair!

          3. IceC0ld

            Re: Irony

            there are several reactors in Scotland, where, the local patois can be thought of as additional security, as in they have encrypted the bloody language LOL

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Irony

            Don’t choose a coastal site. Sizewell C will be on an island in the North Sea a century before they finish de-commissioning, what with sea levels rising. Also in this case seal levels rising, ho ho.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Irony

          It’s not the pylons! It’s the landfall boxes, cable runs and the substations & converters - having two hectares of concrete and an eighty-foot high building slapped down in a green field next to a small village (and ten years of industrial grade traffic on small rural roads) is not something you’d wish on your worst enemy. We already have the pylons, btw.

      3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Irony

        If I was building a Bit Barn, I'd put it West of Sizewell, Suffolk. The cloudy weather won't affect the constant carbon free power. Little chance of cables being blown down in a storm (as short distance - could even put them underground perhaps) and just up the A12 from Felixstowe where the servers and everything else can get shipped in from anywhere in the world. And plenty of smart techies locally from shrinking BT who would be looking for jobs.

        Been there, done that. It's an interesting part of the world, and there are some small DC's there already. El Reg did some articles about an interesting site on the Suffolk coast and the Cold War history of Thorpeness. One is there. If you look at the Telegeography cable maps, you'll also see international fibre links landing around there, and there's plenty of fibre up, down and around the A12 into London. Complete with some 'interesting' locations like getting across the Orwell at Ipswich and it's hollow bridge. Plus there's a bunch of wind farms landing around there as well. When I looked at it, challenge was mostly getting farm owners to sell land, and then getting permission to turn it from agricultural use to light industrial.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Irony

          Light industrial? FFS. Have a look at https://sases.org.uk/suffolk-energy-proposals/

          It’s a complete shitshow up here.

      4. wyatt

        Re: Irony

        Problem is, you're probably stuck with ADSL being that far away from civilisation!

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          You're forgetting it's reasonably close to Martlesham. That's probably where ADSL was invented. Maybe.

          Anyway, they would have bags of fibre.

          I think you are getting muddled up with Kings Lynn in Norfolk. High six.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            > Anyway, they would have bags of fibre.

            Wool fibre?

            Round here the bags will be full of a different fibre; the fields are growing wheat for weetabix…

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Irony

        > If I was building a Bit Barn . I'd put it West of Sizewell, Suffolk.

        Or fund the building of a new zero carbon emission power plant near to where there are data centres in use and under construction eg. West London. The only question is whether a bit barn is more profitable use of land than an airport…

        1. NeilPost

          Re: Irony

          You mean like Drax burning CO2 emission free Wood-pellets from the USA ?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            :)

            I was alluding to actual zero carbon emission(*)ie. Nuclear rather than accountancy zero emissions …

            (*) just to be up front, nuclear does have emissions, just not CO2.

            If we locate the bit barns and population directly next to Sizewell, we are basically saying we don’t need nuclear to be miles away from people…

      6. sabroni Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: I'm sure England might.

        You're sure that they might? So, not sure then?

        What is happening to this lovely language of ours? Or rather, what isn't not happening to this lovely language of ours?

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Irony

        Keep out Suffolk with your pointless and wasteful bit-wrangling, please! EDF and ‘National’ Grid are already planning to concrete over enough of our fields and villages just to power up all these pointless, gravity-challenged and vilely expensive EVs. And building and operating Sizewell C is not carbon-free, any more than shipping in all the not-at-all carbonfree server kit is. Oh, and ‘just put the cables underground’ - under whose ground? You’ll need a trench as wide as the M11, and our fields are among the most efficient food-producing in the UK. Keep your bits to yourself, please.

        Signed as a stern defender of the countryside, which I believe is translated in RegSpeak as ‘NIMBY’.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Irony

      Ireland[1] relies on importing electricity from Great Britain[2] most of the time. Even right now with the remnants of Storm Kathleen still blowing, and with wind supplying 42% of Great Britain's electricity, 1.24% of GB's electricity demand is exports to Ireland, and 0.18% is exports to Northern Ireland.

      [1] Includes Northern Ireland

      [2] Scotland, England, Wales and Isle of Man. Does not include Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.

      Electricity network borders don't follow the same line as national borders.

      1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: Irony

        > Great Britain [2] [..] Scotland, England, Wales and Isle of Man. Does not include Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.

        The Isle of Man isn't even a part of the United Kingdom, let alone the island of Great Britain.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Irony

          Sure, but it is part of the GB electricity grid. Like I say, the grid borders aren't the same as political borders.

          1. The Bobster

            Re: Irony

            Nope

            https://www.nationalgrid.com/electricity-transmission/network-and-infrastructure/network-route-maps

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Irony

              Yep

              https://www.awjmarine.co.uk/fishery-liaison/isle-of-man-interconnector/

              1. Necrohamster Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Irony

                The Isle of Man's on an interconnector (according to the URL you posted, did you read it?), which implies that it's not part of the National Grid.

                The Manx Utilities Authority operates the transmission network in the IoM.

                it's amazing how much incorrect information you post, with such confidence.

                1. katrinab Silver badge

                  Re: Irony

                  It is an ac link, therefore the IOM is synchronised to the island of Great Britain.

                  Also, Scottish and Southern Energy operates the transmission network where I live.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          But the Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, hence why Mark Cavendish could ride and win gold for TeamGB.

          1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            (Disclaimer; apologies if this gets too much into nitpicking waffle, feel free to ignore it if anyone thinks it's getting too off-topic!)

            > But the Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, hence why Mark Cavendish could ride and win gold for TeamGB.

            Yes, it's a part of the British Isles, but that doesn't follow, and it's a red herring as far as what I was discussing went.

            The actual reason Cavendish competes on behalf of TeamGB is a political/arbitrary decision that the IOM will be represented as part of the (de facto) UK team that happens to be named "GB"- whether or not the IOM is part of the UK or GB (it isn't, and it isn't). It says or proves nothing beyond that.

            The Isle of Man may be a part of (the entire geographic grouping of) the British Isles, but still it isn't a part of the island of Great Britain ("GB").

            If you think about it, the same logic would also apply to *anyone* on the island of Ireland- which is also a part of the British Isles (*)- but that's not the case for those from the Republic of Ireland. (**)

            The fact that it's called "TeamGB"- rather than "TeamUK", which would include NI- is sort of a weird fudge anyway, apparently because those from NI can choose to compete as either a part of the UK/GB team *or* the ROI team. Or something.

            But the fact that people chose a technically misleading/inaccurate name for the sports team- or who does or doesn't get to compete for it- is, as I said, a red herring that doesn't change the fact that the IOM isn't a part of the island of Great Britain.

            (*) Acknowledging that some in Ireland dislike the name because "British" tends to be treated somewhat synonymously with the United Kingdom- which doesn't cover the entire physical grouping, obviously- and my use of the commonly-accepted term doesn't imply endorsement of it.

            (**) Unless they have some other connection that would qualify them to compete for TeamGB, if they wanted to.

            1. Ken G Silver badge

              Re: Irony

              I'll be that guy again and point out that "British Isles" is a loaded term which is rejected by the government of Ireland.

              I accept the point about power grids - ESB Networks runs Ireland's and Northern Ireland's infrastructure. The island of Ireland is a net importer of electricity from GB but a net exporter of electricity to the UK, because NI has underinvested in infrastructure for decades and doesn't have enough generation capacity for it's own needs. Most is supplied from elsewhere on the island of Ireland but some comes from Scotland which has a surplus.

              1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

                Re: Irony

                > I'll be that guy again and point out that "British Isles" is a loaded term

                I'd hoped that the footnote in my original comment would have already acknowledged that part, though I'll admit I wasn't aware that the term had been effectively rejected by the government of Ireland. (They don't actually use an alternative, apparently all the diplomatic agreements simply refer to "these islands").

                The only other alternative proposal I've heard of in the past was "IONA" for "Islands of the North Atlantic", though I'm not sure how widespread that is as the Wikipedia article didn't seem to mention that. (I dislike it personally because it risks confusion with the Scottish island of Iona.)

                I should also point out that I'm a pro-independence Scot, not someone who has any particular affection for- or bias towards- the UK or the British state, but I wanted to stay as neutral as possible on the terminology.

            2. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Irony

              > apologies if this gets too much into nitpicking waffle

              Accepted, apologies for not correctly labelling my comment as nitpicking mockery about the status of the Isle of Man.

              Totally, agree over the decades TeamGB selectors have been flexible with the nationality requirement, when it comes to outstanding athletes. Yet we all cheer when they win for TeamGB.

              Personally, having met and spoken with the guy (several times), Mark Cavendish is a really good ambassador for cycling. A few years back he spent an afternoon at Silverstone individually talking to a couple of dozen young riders (8~16 year olds), giving each 5~10 minutes and having his picture taken with each of them, one of those 12 yo kids subsequently went on to become the UKs junior road racing champion and is now targeting Los Angeles 2028, she still remembers that afternoon.

        3. NeilPost

          Re: Irony

          It’s a self governing (British) Crown Dependency.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Man

          The UK does have responsibilities towards it, and ultimately the Head of State for both is the same person.

          … who just happens to still be Legal Head of State for Canada, Australia and New Zealand too (and many other places) too I might add.

      2. Necrohamster Silver badge

        Re: Irony

        "Ireland[1] relies on importing electricity from Great Britain[2] most of the time"

        Citation please.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Irony

          The information here:

          https://www.eirgrid.ie/grid/real-time-system-information

          claims to show the power flow across the interconnects between Ireland and GB. I just wish I understood whether a positive number referred to a net export or import!

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            Or, from the other side or the Irish Sea:

            https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

            A minus number means an export (from GB).

            It is much the same on the Irish side. +ve means an inflow to Ireland, just like the positive numbers for their wind farms etc contribute to the electricity supply. -ve means an outflow to GB, so some of their +ve numbers from generation sources are being offset by exports.

          2. Necrohamster Silver badge

            Re: Irony

            If you drill down into Eirgrid's interconnection stats for today the flow between Ireland and Wales is pretty much balanced (power goes one way in the morning and the other way around lunchtime), while NI takes power from Scotland without ever returning the favour.

            It's not true to say that Ireland (ROI/Eire in the context of this article) is dependent on the UK for its electricity needs (i.e. importing power most of the time as claimed). If you drill down into "Fuel mix" on that page you can see that 67.3% of Ireland's (not NI's) electricity is coming from renewables, and 0.7% from imports.

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Irony

              Today is a particularly windy day though.

              If you look at the average for the last month (for the whole island, which is the only really relevant figure because Ireland has a single grid covering both countries), the average is 511MW going from GB to Ireland.

              It should also be noted that GB is even more dependent on imports from continental Europe, so ultimately that is where it is coming from.

              1. munnoch Bronze badge

                Re: Irony

                "GB is even more dependent on imports from continental Europe"

                Indeed, 7GW inward at the moment. That will be made up of French Nuclear and Norwegian Hydro. 0.32GW transiting through to Ireland.

                Given that we are expected to be charging our cars and heating our homes exclusively with electricity in the not to distant future it seems somewhat bizarre to be allocating a significant proportion of capacity to AI generated cat videos.

    3. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Irony

      @Jellied Eel

      This is a terrible failure where we want to further electrify our economies and the technological demands for energy are also rising yet various countries have pursued a policy of reducing energy capability. In the battle between reality and politics it is reality that hits hardest.

    4. Snowy Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Irony

      Shame you can not get power from rain, I hear Ireland gets lots of that. -----> Coat to stop me getting wet from all that rain :)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Irony

        We get all our power from rain. Over here the electric company is just known as hydro.

    5. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Irony

      "Irish cloud affected by the clouds and the weather."

      They had better start working on their nuclear power stations!!

    6. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Irony

      I have no sympathy with any of the Cloud providers on this.

      Amazon have bought up huge amounts of wind output from new wind farms to greenwash their operations. It should be no surprise to them that when the crunch comes there is insufficient generating capacity.

      Equally the ridiculous concentration of bit-barns is also a huge part of the problem. This should have been an entirely foreseeable issue and not a surprise.

      Also there has to reach a point where there is a risk that these huge, very rich corporation commit to purchase so much output that the general population is actually at risk from lack of power.

      It simply should not be possible for a corporation to do this.+

  2. Philip Storry
    Flame

    Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

    This is the problem with fads like cryptocurrency and AI. Everyone's looking at the technology uses or outputs, but nobody's looking at the hardware costs or power draw.

    I really want to say that AI has a future, but the costs just seem far too high given the results. I'm having a difficult time making economic arguments for any uses at my workplace. Whilst it's free, sure go ahead and use it. But many companies are asking an extra ten or twenty bucks a month for AI features, and given how often it will be used and how little time it therefore saves, that's hard to justify across a whole company.

    Seems like unless we address these power issues, those prices are only going to go up, and the business case harder to make.

    I hear that there's some work going on in low-power draw models, but I'm not convinced that the AI industry is taking it seriously enough to make much of a difference right now - I suspect that they're just hoping hardware and power grids (or batteries on portable devices) will catch up.

    Still, that's why I've called it a fad. I'm sure that some elements of AI will linger in a useful manner, but I don't think it will be in the pervasive way that the AI prophets think it will be.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

      Wow. That's a bit like telling the Wright Brothers that they are wasting their money by trying to make planes, as it costs a small fortune and is dangerous. Both of which were true at the time, but look at how much has changed since.

      "but the costs just seem far too high given the results"

      I think you mean

      "but the costs just seem far too high given the current results"

      AI could potentially change the whole planet in unimaginable ways. It WILL change it, but the only question is when. Will it be in the next decade or 1,000 years from now? It's inevitable that it will happen eventually, and it will change everything. We won't need to clean our own homes or cook meals. We won't need accountants. Our streets will be swept and cleared of rubbish and leaves regularly. We won't cut our own grass. There won't be potholes in the roads. Many many jobs will become redundant. New jobs will be created hopefully (they usually are).

      This could potentially lead to a post scarcity society. The Culture (Iain M. Banks). Or Armageddon. Who knows?

      And you're quibbling about 20 bucks a month?

      I'd spend 1,000 bucks a month if I could get a robot to do all the boring stuff that sucks up my time.

      But here's the big question, would I use that extra time to be creative and invent things and learn new skills, or would I binge watch Netflix and get fat? (or worse, would I waste even more time arguing with other commentards on El Reg forum)

      1. Philip Storry
        Mushroom

        Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

        I just don't even know where to start with this reply. Almost everything you said was wrong.

        I'm going to ignore the breathless idiocy about post-scarcity society or AI somehow making making your meals. AI is orthogonal to that - our most advanced robots can currently do some gymnastics and make a few specific cocktails. That's a long way from cooking meals, and if you don't realise that then I pity your local fire brigade, who you will no doubt be on first name terms with soon after you get your first domestic robot.

        The Wright Brothers' Flyer is a terrible analogy, because they didn't start charging people for transatlantic flights immediately after they'd first flown it.

        Fifteen years after they'd flown we were flying combat aircraft in a war. The pace of development was rapid, and the constraints were clear - power, albeit of a different kind to what we were discussing. The word you'll hear time and time again when looking at failed aircraft is "underpowered". The jet engine just about fixed that after the second world war, albeit in its second and third generations.

        All technologies have constraints. The problem with AI's constraint being power is that building new power infrastructure usually takes decades.

        So if you want this glorious new future you're convinced is there, you're going to have to accept that it won't be quick to arrive by any stretch. And I'm going to completely gloss over the questions of the economic and environmental costs of building that power infrastructure, as that's a very hot potato.

        As to the fiscal cost of AI services, I think you're underestimating how many businesses see it. I'll take a quick example for my home territory - the UK. Microsoft charge £31 per user per month for an E3 license. Which, for the Office suite plus Exchange Online and (until recently) Teams, isn't bad. But if they're charging an extra £20 per month for CoPilot (their branded AI), that's basically a ~60% price increase.

        For a handful of people that's fine.

        For a company of 500, that's extortionate. A jump from £15,500 a month to £25,500. Or if you prefer yearly figures, £186,000 to £306,000. Given how few use cases there are for AI right now, I'd have difficulty getting that past most finance departments...

        And we're supposed to be in the "selling the razors at cost so we can make money on the blades later" stage of the business plan.

        The costs are not looking like they'll work out in the short term.

        I'm sure AI will change many things. But it won't cook your dinner for you without major advances in robotics, and a new power station in your area. It's lovely that you have £1000 a month of disposable income though - have you considered employing a cleaner and maybe subscribing to one of those dinner services like Hello Fresh? That might get you further towards your goals, with change to spare...

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

          I guess you didn't actually read what I said?

          "So if you want this glorious new future you're convinced is there, you're going to have to accept that it won't be quick to arrive by any stretch. "

          My timeline went up to 1,000 years in the future. And it started at decades. I want this now, but it's probably going to take at least decades. Some think with exponential growth in tech it will be much quicker, but I doubt that.

          It's inevitable it WILL happen, it's only a matter of time.

          I don't have that disposable income, but my grandparents couldn't afford to eat out in a restaurant even once a month. We all will in the future.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

            > It's inevitable it WILL happen, it's only a matter of time.

            Dear children, sorry we burnt the planet and used up all the resources, but believe me it will be worth it, just think in a 1,000 years your descendants will be able to enjoy a lifestyle you can only dream about…

            Having written that, it reminds me of the “god squad”: your life is and will be hell, but think of the reward awaiting the faithful in heaven….

            1. Killdolly

              Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

              To diverge..

              "your life is and will be hell, but think of the reward awaiting the faithful in heaven" Lukashenko said much the same to his own people a few years ago.

          2. Philip Storry
            Stop

            Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

            My apologies for the late reply, busy day yesterday...

            I did read what you said. It seems the mistake I made was thinking that predicting 1000 years into the future was hyperbole I could dismiss, not an actual attempt to predict the future of 1000 years.

            I see little point in predicting past my own lifetime and perhaps the lifetime of the next generation. Mostly because that's all I can reasonably hope to influence. There is fun and even value in exploring possibilities through fiction - see Asimov, Bester, Clarke - but little point in making solid plans as though fiction will be reality.

            I prefer pragmatism over fantasy.

            That seems to be our fundamental difference, and I suspect it will be irreconcilable.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

          I'm going to ignore the breathless idiocy about post-scarcity society or AI somehow making making your meals. AI is orthogonal to that - our most advanced robots can currently do some gymnastics and make a few specific cocktails. That's a long way from cooking meals, and if you don't realise that then I pity your local fire brigade, who you will no doubt be on first name terms with soon after you get your first domestic robot.

          The Wright Brothers' Flyer is a terrible analogy, because they didn't start charging people for transatlantic flights immediately after they'd first flown it.

          I dunno.. So 'AI' and cryptobollocks are all pretty much examples of parasitic loads at the moment. They can do some stuff, but often not very useful stuff. There are some pretty cool use cases, like drug design, or even optimising computationally intensive tasks like optimising jet or rocket engines. Then again, that's often more a case of trial and error with 'AI' simply trying every combination and permutation until it finds something that might work.

          But then assuming they do, and that drastically reduces the cost per kg to orbit, then we can put Wintermute in space where it can bask in cheap solar energy. Or we could build automated orbital factories, with resources auto-mined from the Moon or Asteroid belt. Once stuff is up there, energy is essentially 'free', and eco-freaks can maybe stop whining about resource depletion. There's a crapton floating around above our heads. So then we could be in a post-scarcity world. Except it could be just a tad disruptive. Like the asteroid that probably contains gigatonnes of precious metals, rendering gold essentially worthless.. Unless we transition to a new economy based on say, Joules rather that fiat(s). SF writers have been waaay ahead of chancers promoting a carbon economy.

          But a lot of the AI hype is promoting digital tulips. We can produce deep fakes. Yey. We can produce chat bots that cost more than call centre operators who can do more than AIs. Yey. So far, just another bubble expanding, with predictable consequences. Ireland's data centre challenges were entirely predictable given it's energy, infrastructure and tax policies. Congratulations, Ireland. You've created a market for parasites that are usually ILO and don't create jobs. Then they don't create tax revenues either, because they're almost always a cost centre.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

            > Then they don't create tax revenues either, because they're almost always a cost centre.

            Trouble is, as we learnt from the fall out from the Apple sweet heart deal, Ireland doesn’t actually want the tax revenues. Clearly Ireland doesn’t want to be another Kuwait…

            Personally, I would increase the rate of tax on bit barn energy and accept that most of the actual business profits will be whisked away to some tax haven.

          2. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

            "Once stuff is up there, energy is essentially 'free', and eco-freaks can maybe stop whining about resource depletion."

            The moon is actually very poor in useful minerals. Asteroids could be more useful, but energy required to reach their orbit and back is huge. Even with very cheap launches and very cheap energy in space, the economic case for off-Earth resource acquisition is still very sketchy. But 'resource depletion' isn't so much a real thing. There's plenty of resources on Earth, the limit being how easily / cheaply we can access them. And typically if we have enough energy, we can develop some technology to access them. So the equation becomes - how cheaply can we get usable energy, and how can AI help us develop energy and other technologies more quickly and more efficiently.

            The question for people concerned about the environment is "what is a reasonable balance between technological development and ecological harm?". There's the 'eco-freaks' answer to that question, which is no ecological harm *at all* is acceptable for progress, and the ultra-capitalists answer that the whole planet is fair game as long as there's money to be made. In my experience most people fall somewhere on the middle of that scale, but (a) have allowed the extremes to capture the debate and (b) fail to see that more often than not, the more advanced a technology is the more benefit it can deliver with less external impact.

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

          Robots already make meals though.

          Go to the ready-meal section in your local supermarket, pick up some stuff and put it in a microwave. They are made using huge industrial robots that take the raw ingredients and are set up to produce one specific recipe, rather than a humanoid robot that does a single meal in your kitchen.

          1. Steve Button Silver badge

            Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

            Imagine what some billionaires eat right now. They go to posh restaurants, have a personal chef or have some kind of tasting menu.

            I'm not talking about the junk that you put in the microwave.

            Right now we have the lifestyle that a king did a few hundred years ago.

            In another hundred years we might all be able to have the lifestyle of a present day "king" (billionaire). Everything cooked from scratch and presented immaculately, if that's what you want.

            But because of exponential growth in tech it might come sooner.

            Or maybe not, making predictions is hard especially about the future.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

              Or maybe not, making predictions is hard especially about the future.

              Not always. Just watch Demolition Man. That's the future that's coming, especially if our dear leaders ever figure out how the 3 shells thing works. Think how many trees could be saved if they can solve that puzzle! Siri and Alexa can probably already detect and issue fines, especially in Scotland.

          2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

            Go to the ready-meal section in your local supermarket, pick up some stuff and put it in a microwave. They are made using huge industrial robots that take the raw ingredients and are set up to produce one specific recipe, rather than a humanoid robot that does a single meal in your kitchen.

            But this is the future! This is our brave new world! Eat bugs, and be happy! Own nothing except your feed warmer and some safe plastic cutlery and be happy! Rejoice Citizen, you are saving the planet!

            And of course this is already here. Rather than relying on a load of evolution to have animals turning stuff we can't eat into stuff we can, we can now produce fake meat. Sure, it costs a bit more and doesn't taste very good, but it's saving the planet. So it just requires a few tweaks. Bug farms can be built next to datacentres so fly larvae can be grown using the waste heat. Or combine that with bioreactors making food from sludge*. Then, it's a simple matter to extrude the right balance of proteins, carbs, fibre (easy with bugs, assuming people aren't allergic, or develop allergies) and press into the right shape. I'd suggest a middle finger, but an 'AI' informs me cubes, lozenges or hexagonal forms are better for packing efficiency. Then load into 'AI' delivery bots and distribute to your 'customers'. As those won't need real cutlery, knife crime will also be greatly reduced. And by managing the amount of calories, Citizens may be less likely to string politicians up from ULEZ cameras.

            Food cubes can even be enriched by including food scraps generously donated from the billionaire's tables!

            This may sound somewhat dystopian, but we've already had US Government cheese for welfare recipients, so 'food' cubes are an obvious next step. And as the AI will control the media, especially 'social' media, it will be easy to convince the gullible that this is good. It is efficient. It is sustainable. You are saving the planet. If you want a real beefburger, you'll be subjected to the same kind of 'nudges' that smokers have been. How dare you! Don't you know how much methane was in that meal!

            *Exemptions of course need to be made for useful sludge-based products. Like Marmite. Even though the EU is trying to mess that up with their 'Low Salt Directive'.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Soylent Green

              The ultimate sustainable food - keeps the poor fed, and the rich happy. What's not to like!

              1. ravenviz Silver badge

                Re: Soylent Green

                The Soylent Green concept does not work as it takes about two months to consume a dead human calorie-wise, so you need 400 dead people for a single alive person to enjoy their ‘3 score and 10’ which would lead to extinction within two or three generations. Well done 70’s sci-fi, nice try.

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: Soylent Green

                  Yeh, but if your airplane ever crashes in the snowy mountains, veges and vegans are, and always will be a valuable source of fats and proteins. If you're above the treeline, they're going to starve anyway so may as well make use of them before the fat and muscle has wasted. Oh, and you may be glad to have a smoker around because they'll have a lighter.

                  But reduce, reuse, recycle has been a mantra from the Greens for years. Even if reduction might just mean dissolving corpses instead of incinerating them so you can pour granny down the drain. Other options are of course available. So granny can become bug food, then the skeleton ground down to bone meal to fertilise the elite's gardens. Especially as they're currently trying to ban fertilisers and force people to go vege. Yield, yield I say! Or if you really want to troll Greens, just point out that 1g of Plutonium contains the equivalent of around 20bn calories. Let them eat yellow cake!

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Soylent Green

                    Surprise, surprise, Jellied Eel has a beef with "Greens", "veges and vegans"... (and cannibalistic perversions). This post was particularly sick (i.e. more than usual).

                    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                      Re: Soylent Green

                      Surprise, surprise, Jellied Eel has..

                      A sense of humor, unlike an anonymong troll? I suspect veges and vegans taste more like pork though. Still a potentially valuable source of protein. Rest is just an insane policy thing. Ecofreaks are trying to ban meat. Replacing meat with a plant-based diet means growing more veggies. Doing that requires more fertilsers, pesticides and herbicides which all require energy. In other genius moves, we're covering potential farmland in solar panels because they can generate £1,000 an acre, and food doesn't. And trying to grow crops in the shadows under solar panels isn't exactly efficient.

                      Then there's the energy requirements to grow fake meat, raise insects, or create 'vertical farms' with crops grown under artificial lighting. So almost certainly more joules in than calories out, and of course the water needed. We're not exactly very efficient at digesting cellulose (or keratin and chitin) hence why we let our meat do that. And then there's the issue of food waste, so what to do with all the bits of a plant that we can't eat. Can't use them as animal feed, can't put them in other digestors to convert to methane because the eco-freaks want to ban that..

                      Maybe an 'AI' can figure what to do, and waste more energy telling us stuff we already know after a few thousand years of agriculture. Or maybe the eco-facists will just 'train' the AIs the same way they do climate 'models' to give them the answers they want.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Soylent Green

                        Yes. You undoubtedly set the standards for sense of humor in this forum. "Recycling" grannies is another high points. And never miss an opportunity to misinform. All that rantish mumbo-jumbo above is 100% made-up with zero supporting data ("more veggies" "more fertilsers[sic], pesticides and herbicides", agrivoltaic farming). I suggest you just dose yourself with some cocktail of essential amino acids in some permanent IV, mixed with insulin, ivermectin and blood thinners. Thank God there are people who get things done so that you can put some Brexit food in your basket (enough to keep you ranting about "inflation" for another day).

        4. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

          "...if you want this glorious new future you're convinced is there, you're going to have to accept that it won't be quick to arrive by any stretch"

          The original poster was laying out a vision of possibilities, not necessarily on a timeline. Yes, AI consumes a lot of power, and will consume more. Transport consumes a lot of power, so does heating, cooling, manufacturing and other industrial applications. The bottom line, really, for human development, is that we need power in gigantic volumes, and we should be looking for ways to increase power usage, not decrease it.

          Of course, we need to do that in ways that don't adversely impact everything else, hence decarbonisation, the push for fusion power, and why it's a grand idea in the meantime to build as many fission power stations as we can as quickly as we can. And equally of course we need to look at consumption efficiency, because we're not consuming energy for the sake of it. (So I guess this is where I wholeheartedly concur that anyone spending that sort of dough on CoPilot is nuts). At the moment we're in the AI hype stage, so yes, lots of companies are going to overspend on overhyped tech. That doesn't mean that the technology won't significantly improve and that it will be much more useful at a far cheaper price point, because that's how tech works.

          As to robot cooks, if you're willing to take 5 minutes to put all the ingredients in it yourself and start a program, you can get one for under £1000 (except it doesn't *look* like a robot, it looks like a fancy pot with a bunch of buttons). 'Human arms/hands' cooking robots already exist as long as all the pans / pots / ingredients are in precise places and you have a fortune to spend. (And you don't need really need AI for that, it's mostly similair to industrial control robots)

      2. Alan Bourke

        Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

        "AI could potentially change the whole planet in unimaginable ways. It WILL change it, but the only question is when."

        Been hearing that since the 80s. We're still only at Super Clippy being hyped by techbros stage.

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

          If you took someone from the 80s, they would not recognise society as it is now. Imagine their surprise at the flying cars, the hoverboards and jet packs that we all use to travel.

          Imagine how they would look at us when we play our music on this weird thing called vinyl.

          And many of us now eat food from a place called McDonalds.

          It's like magic.

    2. mpi Silver badge

      Re: Economics are a PITA, aren't they?

      > This is the problem with fads like cryptocurrency and AI. Everyone's looking at the technology uses or outputs, but nobody's looking at the hardware costs or power draw.

      That isn't a problem with any specific tech, that's a problem of politics powers of foresight being limited to the end of the next news cycle.

      If I paint my country as THE location for big tech to be in, and ignore the fact that datacenters need lots of power (because who wants to think about all that boring infrastructure stuff, when its so much cooler to be in lots of photo-ops about how amazing awesome much techy stuff is now in the country) then powergrid goes brrrrr, it's as simple as that.

  3. Necrohamster Silver badge
    Pirate

    Did you ever hear about...

    ...how the Irish energy regulator allowed the country's defacto monopoly electricity supplier to increase consumers' bills so they could subsidise the electricity costs of big businesses - data centers included?

    Apparently it was supposed to be a short term measure, but due to an "administrative error" the overcharging went on for 12 years, until 2022.

    "Pharmaceutical firms, food producers, IT companies and data centres all benefited at a cost to householders.

    The subsidy, called the Large Energy User Rebalancing Subvention, was a little-known measure introduced by the government in 2010 to reduce the electricity bills of big businesses in a time of economic crisis.

    Network charges, which made up around 25pc of a domestic customer’s bill, were reduced for large businesses and increased for households to make up the shortfall.

    It was designed to take €50m off the bills of around 1,500 high electricity-using companies every year.

    The Irish Independent revealed last October that the subvention, framed as an emergency measure, had continued to be applied every year for 12 years, resulting in €600 million worth of supports to big businesses."

    So now you know who calls the shots, as if there was ever any doubt.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: Did you ever hear about...

      If you give the government more power in and emergency, in the future they'll create an emergency to get more power.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Did you ever hear about...

      The main reason those companies are there are the tax breaks. The Irish people get to lose out twice, firstly their taxes are higher to subsidise the multinationals and second their electricity bills are higher.

      1. unimaginative

        Re: Did you ever hear about...

        That is not true, because they would not have anything like as much taxable Irish profit without the tax breaks. The Irish people gain because their government has higher tax revenues..

        The losers are the tax payers in the countries where the profits would be taxed if the dodge was not allowed.

        1. Necrohamster Silver badge

          Re: Did you ever hear about...

          "The Irish people gain because their government has higher tax revenues.."

          lol you might think so, but no...

          Apple owes the Irish state €13billion in taxes, but for some reason the government doesn't want to take it. That money, from just one multinational company, could pay for more than a few hospitals, schools, roads etc etc

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Did you ever hear about...

            @Necrohamster

            "Apple owes the Irish state €13billion in taxes, but for some reason the government doesn't want to take it. That money, from just one multinational company, could pay for more than a few hospitals, schools, roads etc etc"

            Isnt that the one where Ireland made an agreement with Apple and Ireland wants to honour the agreement? Also that money could possibly pay for some stuff but not the maintenance, the killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs. However Ireland is finding it is not a sovereign country and belongs to the EU.

            1. Necrohamster Silver badge

              Re: Did you ever hear about...

              Isnt that the one where Ireland made an agreement with Apple and Ireland wants to honour the agreement?

              An agreement that the state would turn a blind eye to creative accounting?

              Also that money could possibly pay for some stuff but not the maintenance, the killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

              There's not much point having a goose that lays golden eggs if the farmer only gets a few of the golden eggs and the goose keeps the rest.

              However Ireland is finding it is not a sovereign country and belongs to the EU.

              The point of joining the EU is that sovereignty is ceded in return for other benefits such as freedom of movement, freedom to trade etc. This isn't some kind of newsflash lol. Anyway, how's sovereignty working out for the UK at the moment, given that it enjoys a lower standard of living than its former colony to the west?

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Did you ever hear about...

                @Necrohamster

                "An agreement that the state would turn a blind eye to creative accounting?"

                If its the same Ireland and Apple vs EU tax argument we are talking about it was agreed between Ireland and Apple and the EU disagrees the agreement is allowed.

                "There's not much point having a goose that lays golden eggs if the farmer only gets a few of the golden eggs and the goose keeps the rest."

                Actually thats the point of the story. The goose doesnt have a stockpile of golden eggs, it produces them. Kill the goose you get none.

                "The point of joining the EU is that sovereignty is ceded"

                Yes that was my point. Ireland is realising it isnt Ireland but a part of the EU which tells it how to behave.

                "This isn't some kind of newsflash lol."

                Yet Ireland thought the deal would be ok. They and Apple siding together in the belief Irelands government was running its country.

                "Anyway, how's sovereignty working out for the UK at the moment"

                Pretty good to be honest. The doomsday FUD didnt happen and the country could be doing better but then it could be doing a lot worse. And our sovereignty did save us from some of the EU issues.

                "given that it enjoys a lower standard of living than its former colony to the west?"

                Which do you mean? The UK has a lower standard of living than the US. We know this

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: Did you ever hear about...

                  Re Apple sweet heart deal

                  The Irish government wanted its cake and to eat it. Then got upset when, to be expected, things didn’t t work the way they thought they did and they got found out…

                  The issue wasn’t t the EU, it was Ireland deliberately deciding not to honour pre-existing undertakings it had made. By making such arrangements in private etc. just confirms they knew what they were doing was wrong.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: Did you ever hear about...

                    @Roland6

                    "The issue wasn’t t the EU, it was Ireland deliberately deciding not to honour pre-existing undertakings it had made"

                    I dont disagree with that assessment. I did wonder why Apple would be the one to pay for Ireland breaking its agreement with the EU, surely Ireland should be the one punished by the EU?

                    1. Roland6 Silver badge

                      Re: Did you ever hear about...

                      > I did wonder why Apple would be the one to pay for Ireland breaking its agreement with the EU

                      Agree, this aspect of the case was not well explained by the media.

                      Basically, the EU ruling was Ireland gave Apple illegal state aid, and thus Ireland needed to collect the backdated illegal state aid from Apple and pay the EU its slice from it. The Irish government with Apple jointly appealed. The media to keep things simple, claimed the EU was wanting the money directly from Apple. The Irish government were happy for Apple to be in the limelight rather than themselves…

                      Given the amount of EU reconstruction monies that Ireland took in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Irish government really were trying to pull a fast one on this, particularly when they said they didn’t need the tax revenues and thus under pay those who financed the economic development of Ireland.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Did you ever hear about...

              > Ireland is finding it is not a sovereign country and belongs to the EU.

              On top of what Necrohamster already replied, I'd add one other thing.

              Ireland's taxation situation with respect to Apple *is* the legitimate business of other countries, because the entire setup depends in the first place on those other countries cooperating and permitting Apple to funnel profits from sales in *their* countries as being "made"- and hence taxed- in Ireland.

              What do you suppose would happen if all those other- equally sovereign- countries were suddenly able to, and did, decide not to cooperate with the legislation that permitted that obvious fiction?

              That if all those other countries decided that- while Ireland was free to tax any genuine sales within its own borders however the hell it wanted- any sales in *their* own countries were to be taxed *there* at *their* rates* and funnelling them through tax havens would be outlawed?

              The whole thing would fall over quicker than a house of cards.

              Ireland isn't the victim here, Ireland is the beneficiary.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Did you ever hear about...

                And so all US companies in the EU are subject to the harsh oversight of the Irish data protection office.

                Is it still in a single room above a corner shop in the middle of nowhere?

      2. Necrohamster Silver badge

        Re: Did you ever hear about...

        The killer with data centres is that they're a huge drain on the power grid, with little or no benefit to the average taxpayer.

        It takes a handful of people to run a data centre. You need just a couple of maintenance people locally in case the roof leaks or something needs to be turned off and back on again, the rest can be offshored to some low-cost location.

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: Did you ever hear about...

          That's true. They do create 100s of jobs (perhaps 1000s) whilst being commissioned though.

          Even after that it's more than a handful. You need security guards. Rackers/Stackers. Cleaners. A/C engineers. Network cabling. Power. But still not a huge number.

          Even in Norfolk a "handful" only goes up to 12.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Did you ever hear about...

            Lots of people until you start counting full-time equivalents…

            Just been through this locally, with a bit barn development, now it’s been constructed and populated total on-site full-time head count 20 people.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The real deal: inflate GDP to be able to run a higher deficit

          Many countries run similar schemes that seem to make no sense. Massive tax breaks are given to attract companies that locally have a very high turnover but employ very few people. It doesn't seem to benefit the countries, and in many ways it doesn't. But it does benefit lazy politicians who can only run a deficit as a certain percentage of GDP before alerting things like EU budget control or the financial markets like happened with Greece and Argentina. So these lazy politicians find ways to artificially inflate the GDP, at the expense of their own citizens and their neighbouring countries.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Did you ever hear about...

      And there it is.

  4. Zibob Bronze badge

    We enjoy a level of service

    One that we have come to expect and rely on.

    It is a point of pride that we have not had a non weather related or unannounced power outage in years. Something that many Americans I talk to say is a monthly occurrence.

    There is already growing and verbal concern amongst the regular people. It is very good to see that EirGrid is limiting what can be used where and when rather than bowing to the corporate Yankee dollar.

    But there will be, no doubt about it, wide scale civil unrest if companies that don't pay fair tax and get other breaks start to bring down the power grid at the expense of public services and the people of the country.

    It would likely be a building problem, the first times will be outrage, and then when it co tinues to happen people will take to the streets.

    It is worth noting that while I don't know the locations of googles or Microsoft's data centers, amazon were far less conspicuous setting up a massive series of branded warehouses next to one of the busiest motorways, not very far from a very rough part of Dublin, one known for its tendency to set things they don't like on fire.

  5. DS999 Silver badge

    Datacenter "success story" ... "employment and revenue"

    Revenue maybe, depending on whether they are actually collecting taxes from Amazon, Microsoft, etc.

    Employment, not so much, at least not once the datacenter has been built. I wouldn't be surprised if more jobs have been created by utilities providing and maintaining the power to operate the datacenter than the datacenter's construction let alone its ongoing operation created.

  6. ecofeco Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Who could have seen this coming?

    WHOCOULDAKNOWED?!

  7. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    This is coming everywhere

    This is coming for all datacentres eventually, as their power requirements increase. There's a limit to how much electric you can generate and how much the grid can handle. And since governments don't own the national grids anymore there's precious little investment in them because they want a short-term profit rather than a long term gain (cf. Thames Water).

    As for me, I'll just sit here with my popcorn, watching the show. (Until they turn off the power to my popcorn maker, obviously).

    Also, we need a popcorn icon, really.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge

      One thing I find puzzling

      Is that I am told the UK's electricity demand has apparently dropped significantly in recent years.

      But with the advent of EVs, Heat Pumps, Electric Arc Furnaces, increased train electrification, increasing population and now AI bit-barns, I would have expected it to have grown significantly.

      So, what is going on? It can't just be lightbulbs.. I suppose a lot of heavy industry has closed down, people with electric heating have moved to gas, and maybe we are drinking less tea? And the transition to EVs HPs and EAFs hasn't really kicked in yet.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: One thing I find puzzling

        Is that I am told the UK's electricity demand has apparently dropped significantly in recent years.

        I found this graph, and possible explanation-

        https://euanmearns.com/uk-electricity-generation-statistics-1920-2012/

        So, what is going on? It can't just be lightbulbs.. I suppose a lot of heavy industry has closed down, people with electric heating have moved to gas, and maybe we are drinking less tea? And the transition to EVs HPs and EAFs hasn't really kicked in yet.

        Euan suggests-

        2003 – 2012 saw electricity demand plateau and then fall significantly. The beginning of this process coincides with the beginning of the bull run in energy prices. While energy efficiency gains may account for part of the fall in demand, high energy prices, fuel poverty and double dip recession are the principle causes.

        Which sounds plausible. Electricity costs start to climb, and we start to de-industrialise and switch focus to a service economy, as well as the 'dash for gas' for domestic and commercial heating. The biggest challenge is as you say, reversing that as we continue to decarbonise and deindustrialise along with massively increasing the demand for cheap, reliable electricity.

  8. martinusher Silver badge

    Resource Depletion -- again

    In an unrelated story there's a problem because the Colorado river's water is greatly oversubscribed -- due to careless allocation maybe a century ago all the users have a legal right to more water than the river can produce. (....ad its a really big river) So all of us are going to have to tighten our belts etc.etc.etc. Then it turns out that a bit under half of the river's water is being used to grow hay for export, hay that's intended for beef cattle.

    Ireland has an adequate electricity supply for its population. A supply that's largely provided by a single hydroelectric source. Should be a good time for all, people can get on with their lives with one less thing to worry about. Commercial users move in because power's cheap and ostensibly plentiful. They ramp up demand until it starts topping supply -- because, as we all know, all you need to get infinite power is to be able to pay the bill when its due. The first reaction is to let loose the PR and lobbyists, to tell us all how naughty we are for using too much and how we have to cut our consumption. They are the equivalent of the people growing hay in the desert -- they're mooching off others' resources because all that matters is whether you've got the money to flash to pay for what you want and the political clout to make sure that only the questions you want are asked (and answered).

  9. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Lead times

    I guess the much smaller lead times of bit barn creation (from setting up the project to starting production) really is the issue here.

    In the time from inception of a new bit barn to starting production, not much happens in the world of electricity generation and grid expansion.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody's thought about what happens to the energy supplied to the datacentres. Rather than vent it to the atmosphere as low grade heat, how about building them in residential or commercial areas, concentrate it and resell it to the neighbours?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Nobody's thought about what happens to the energy supplied to the datacentres. Rather than vent it to the atmosphere as low grade heat, how about building them in residential or commercial areas, concentrate it and resell it to the neighbours?

      They have, and there have been a few proposals to use 'waste' heat from DCs for district heating. But the the problem is as you say, it's low grade. So needs more energy to heat it up, or you end up with a tepid water supply and a huge cost to build the infrastructure to distribute that heat. If it's a new build, like famously NYC, it might make sense, but developers aren't interested usually.

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