Not banning the further building of data centres will be like "trying to run down an up-escalator" an Oireachtas committee will be told on Tuesday.
The Oireachtas committee Environment and Climate Action is due to hear from the Commission on the Regulation of Utilities (CRU), the national grid operator Eirgrid and Professor Barry McMullin of Dublin City University on Tuesday.
They will discuss both the impact of data centres on power consumption in Ireland and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).
Professor McMullin will tell the committee in his opening statement that a moratorium on data centres is needed because they are heavy users of electricity.
"Combining effective climate action with the continued rapid expansion of a sector that relies on additional energy consumption is akin to trying to run down an up-escalator.
"Given the related, very near term impact on the stability of the electricity grid, I consider that there is a strong argument for an immediate moratorium on such expansion: at the very least pending full and detailed assessment of the actions which will be required to meet the carbon budget constraint for 2021-2024."
Professor McMullin will say that Ireland "has a compelling strategic need to address this situation of poor and deteriorating energy security" which will require " urgent, disruptive transformation of our energy system".
"The good news is that Ireland is exceptionally well endowed with indigenous zero carbon energy sources, in the forms of on- and off-shore wind, and also solar energy. In principle, there is the opportunity to simultaneously address decarbonisation and energy security through replacing most, if not all, of our insecure supply of imported fossil energy by these secure indigenous sources.
"The bad news is that, due to prolonged procrastination and effective denial of the climate crisis, the time now available for this transformation is extremely limited."
Professor McMullin will say that he does not agree with the argument that Ireland should import LNG because of disruption to natural gas supplies through our pipeline connections to the UK.
"I believe this argument is flawed on multiple grounds including: the risk that locking in additional natural gas supply will conflict with the speed with which we now need to exit its use; the risks associated with upstream release of methane in LNG production (especially via fracking); and the essential global need to reserve “embodied emissions space” for the building of zero-carbon energy infrastructure."
Shannon LNG Ltd, a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy Inc, a New York-based global energy infrastructure company, has erected a site notice at its 600-acre land bank located between Ballylongford and Tarbert in Co Kerry and says that it intends to lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála for the first phase of development at its Shannon Technology & Energy Park.
In its statement, the CRU will say that the growth in energy demand is at unprecedented levels and
"Electricity demand growth from this sector is unlike anything Ireland has seen in the past 100 years. At present, this demand is connecting to the grid more quickly and easily than it has proven possible to deliver the supporting transmission and generation Infrastructure.
"Our aim is to ensure that Data Centres are part of the solution to the challenge they present."
The CRU says that it aims to have a decision on a new policy around data centres this month.
TDs and Senators are expected to ask EirGrid about amber alerts it has issued around energy consumption and whether payments to commercial enterprises have resulted in lower demand.