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New Data Centre Sustainability Reporting Obligations Introduced

The European Commission has adopted a new regulation establishing an EU-wide scheme for rating the sustainability of data centres. Our Planning & Environment team examines the implications for the industry in Ireland.

The European Commission has adopted a new delegated regulation (the Regulation) establishing an EU-wide reporting scheme to rate the sustainability of data centres. The Regulation places significant obligations on data centre operators to report on certain sustainability criteria. We consider the implications of the Regulation for data centres in Ireland and outline what data centre developers need to do to ensure compliance.

According to the European Commission, data centres are estimated to account for almost 3% of EU electricity demand. In Ireland, EirGrid previously estimated that by 2031, 28% of all electricity demand is expected to come from data centres and other new large energy users.

In the context of Ireland’s national emissions targets and climate obligations, these statistics have given rise to public debate on the energy demands of data centre development. There have been several recent refusals by local authorities to grant planning permission for data centres, as well as numerous challenges to grants of permission.

The new recast Energy Efficiency Directive[1] was adopted in 2023 as part of the EU’s plan to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The Directive contains some reporting obligations for data centre operators under Article 12. However, at the time of writing these are not yet effective in Ireland as the Directive has not yet been transposed. Under Article 12 of the Directive, Member States must require data centre operators to make the information set out in Annex VII of the Directive publicly available (subject to limited exceptions). The information required includes details such as the:

  • Location
  • Floorspace
  • Power demand, and
  • Performance of the data centre against sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs)

The deadline under Article 12 is 15 May 2024 and every year thereafter, although this is subject to the Directive being transposed by Ireland.The Commission has identified this Regulation as the “first phase” in the establishment of an EU-wide scheme to rate the sustainability of data centres. The Energy Efficiency Directive leaves it open to the Commission to adopt further delegated acts to supplement the Directive. The Directive identifies that these delegated acts may relate to adaptations to values or calculations, etc. These are required to reflect technical progress, or more generally the establishment of the data centre sustainability rating scheme. As such, it is not yet clear exactly what the Commission intends as the next phase of the scheme.

The Commission has adopted the Regulation in order to:

increase transparency and potentially to promote new designs and efficiency developments in data centres that can not only reduce energy and water consumption, but also promote the use of renewable energy, increased grid efficiency, or the reuse of waste heat in nearby facilities and heat networks.”

Who does the Regulation apply to?

The reporting obligations established by the Regulation apply to the operators of data centres with an installed information technology power demand of at least 500kW.

What does the reporting scheme require?

By 15 September 2024, then by 15 May 2025 and every year thereafter, data centre operators must monitor, gather and report prescribed information and KPIs set out in the Regulation directly to the European database established by the Commission, or via the Member State reporting scheme, if established.

The information that must be communicated to the European database is laid out in the annexes to the Regulation. Annex I information includes basic details about the data centre, such as ownership, location and type of data centre. Annex II outlines the KPIs to be reported on and includes items such as installed information technology power demand, floor area, energy consumption and renewable energy consumption, battery capacity, water usage and waste heat re-use. The Regulation allows a data centre operator to avail of a “comply or explain” approach in its first reporting period for certain KPIs if it cannot gather the necessary data for technical reasons.

Certain information identified in Annex IV will be made public on an aggregated basis at Member State and Union level. The information and KPIs for individual data centres will be kept confidential.

The Regulation also sets out the data centre sustainability indicators and calculation methodologies to be used in rating data centre sustainability. These indicators measure power usage effectiveness, water usage effectiveness, energy reuse factor and renewable energy factor. Data centre operators will be required to publish this information under Article 12 of the Directive by 15 May 2024 and every year thereafter, although the Directive has not yet been transposed.

The Regulation was adopted on 14 March 2024. Unlike the Directive, which requires Member State transposition, the Regulation will be directly effective in Ireland from the day falling 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.[2]


The immediate next step for data centre operators is to gather the relevant data in order to comply with the upcoming reporting obligations. The first reporting deadline under the recast Energy Efficiency Directive is:

  • 15 May 2024, if Article 12 is transposed in Ireland, and
  • 15 September 2024 under the Regulation, if it has been published in the OJEU.

More generally, this Regulation is one of the first concrete steps in the push towards greater transparency of the sustainability credentials of data centres. As electricity demand increases and ‘net zero’ deadlines approach, increasing volumes of regulation and policy are expected, both at a national and EU level. Data centre operators will need to be able to navigate this complex regulatory environment. With that in mind, preparation should commence as soon as possible in order to ensure compliance with reporting obligations under the Regulation.

For more information and expert guidance on environmental, social and governance requirements, contact a member of our Planning & Environment or Corporate Governance & Compliance teams.

People also ask

What is the EU data centre directive?

There is no EU directive that applies exclusively to data centres, but the Energy Efficiency Directive contains some important provisions applicable to data centres. The first iteration of the directive was adopted in November 2012 (Directive (EU) 2012/27/EU), while the new recast Energy Efficiency Directive (Directive (EU) 2023/1791) entered into force in October 2023.

The Energy Efficiency Directive aims to ensure that the EU meets its greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency targets. The revised Energy Efficiency Directive raises the EU energy efficiency target to a reduction in energy consumption of 11.7% by 2030 compared to projections of the expected 2030 energy use. Member States must set indicative national contributions to identify how they will contribute to reaching this target.

Under Article 12 of the Energy Efficiency Directive, data centre operators are obliged to monitor and report on the energy performance of data centres.

What is the energy efficiency regulation in Ireland?

Energy efficiency in Ireland is regulated by different pieces of Irish and EU legislation.

The European Union (Energy Efficiency) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No.426/2014) (as amended), which transposed the first iteration of the Energy Efficiency Directive (Directive (EU) 2012/27/EU), govern matters such as energy auditing, metering, and the incentivisation of energy efficiency improvements.

The delegated European Commission regulation on data centre sustainability reporting (described above) will be directly effective in Ireland.

Other Irish energy efficiency regulations include:

  • The European Union (Energy Efficiency Obligation Scheme) Regulations 2022 (S.I No 522/2022), which redesign the energy efficiency obligation scheme, place obligations and targets on certain energy companies to meet target energy savings.
  • The European Union (Ecodesign Requirements for Certain Energy-Related Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (as amended) impose energy efficiency obligations about certain products.

Do you need planning permission for a data centre?

Yes, new data centre developments require planning permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

Environmental permits and grid connections are also important requirements that new data centre developments are likely to need.

Is there a ban on new data centre development in Ireland?

No, but EirGrid has placed a temporary restriction on the granting of new grid connections for data centre development in Dublin until 2028. Greater clarity is expected following the conclusion of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU)’s consultation on the review of large energy users connection policy.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

[1] (EU) 2023/1791

[2] At the time of writing the Regulation has not been published in the Official Journal.

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