For more than a century the world has placed reliance on massive power plants and power grids to provide energy to power our homes and businesses. The energy landscape is undergoing change as many types of new connected technologies, which have mushroomed outside the electricity grid, are changing how we interact with our energy supply.
ESB is leading the transformation of electricity to benefit industry, domestic customers and the environment. The company was established by the Irish government in 1927 to develop Ireland’s electricity network. They operate a range of generation assets across the Republic of Ireland and the UK including nine hydro stations, 11 thermal stations and 19 wind farms – amounting to a total of 5,727 MW, with a further 112MW under construction.
A Vertically Integrated Utility
ESB Chief Executive, Pat O’Doherty told TSB Review that there is currently significant uncertainty for European power utilities and that ESB’s strategy has been framed to respond to drivers of change like future fuel prices, decarbonisation and technological evolution. He highlighted three factors that will transform ESB’s operational context. The first is the European and national energy and climate policy; followed by market integration through establishment of regional energy markets (REM); and lastly a challenging European and Irish economic environment.
ESB has identified vertical integration as providing balance and adaptability in the context of uncertain environments. They have evolved into a strong, diversified, vertically integrated utility. Today, they operate right across the electricity market: from generation, through transmission and distribution to supply. Additionally, ESB extracts further value at certain points along this chain: supplying gas, using their networks to carry fibre for telecommunications, developing electric vehicle public charging infrastructure and much more.
ESB creates value by managing and developing a portfolio of activities across the energy value chain. Key brands within the group are:
-Electric Ireland is the retail arm of ESB, supplying electricity, gas and energy services to the business and residential markets in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
-ESB Networks, builds and maintains the transmission and distribution system through which electricity flows from generation stations to supply points near cities and towns across Ireland.
-ESB International works in partnership with clients to deliver modern, efficient and dependable energy systems and have completed projects in more than 120 countries including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
-ESB Telecoms DAC is a wholesale telecommunications provider that owns and manages a portfolio of more than 400 telecommunications towers and sites nationwide, they provide transmission services for mobile and wireless operators, private communications companies and emergency services.
-NIE Networks owns the electricity transmission and distribution networks, serving over 840,000 customers in Northern Ireland.
Market integration to an All – Island electricity market by 2025
In response to the integration of the UK and Irish electricity markets, ESB is growing the scale and capabilities of its generation, trading and supply businesses so that they can compete within this new all-islands competitive environment.
ESB currently generates electricity in the UK as an independent supplier after entering the market in 1992 with the development of a 350 MW power plant at Corby, Northamptonshire. Since then, ESB has significantly grown its presence across the UK. They also own the 884 MW power plant at Carrington, two windfarms in England, West Durham and Fullabrook and one windfarm in Wales, Mynydd. The Carrington plant is flexible and can ramp up power quickly by switching to renewables such as wind and solar on the grid system at any given time.
They are also constructing a new £190m renewable power facility at the Port of Tilbury, Essex. This marks ESB’s first investment in the UK’s biomass sector with the plant generating green electricity from waste wood. ESB is scheduled to start selling electricity and gas to consumers in the UK next year.
Further investment in power projects in the UK also affords ESB International the opportunity to deliver growth in a neighbouring market of strategic importance.
Transforming Future Energy
New technologies have revolutionised the energy industry. The customers of today are nothing like the customers of a few years ago. They need greener solutions, faster connections and more flexibility. Responding to this need, networks are becoming smarter, allowing customers to take control of their energy in a way that was never possible before, increasing efficiency and enabling them to turn from user to producer.
At the core of all these technologies is the environment and ESB is harnessing the power of solar, wind, wave and storage to generate green energy.
ESB’s foray into green energy began in 1998 when it opened its first wind farm in Ireland, Crockahenny. The wind farm has a combined capacity of 5 MW which is enough green energy to meet the electricity needs of around 3,000 homes. ESB now has an operational wind portfolio of over 400 MW and supplies clean electricity for 240,000 homes.
In 2010, ESB established the ecars business unit to roll out the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) and to support the introduction and demand for EVs nationally. ESB installed 1,200 public charge points across the island of Ireland, including fast and standard charge points. ESB currently pledges to install free home charging points for the first 2,000 ecars sold in Ireland.
Investments in infrastructure partnerships include:
–Kingspan and ESB joined forces to bring Funded Solar, a solar PV product that enables a business to use its roof space to generate clean, renewable electricity, without any upfront capital costs.
–ESB and Bord na Móna set up a co-development agreement to develop solar power in three locations in Ireland: Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare. They will provide renewable energy to power the equivalent of 150,000 homes.
-ESB and UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) are jointly investing in a new £190m renewable power facility at the Port of Tilbury, Essex. The project marks ESB’s first investment in the UK’s biomass sector with the plant generating green electricity from waste wood.
-ESB and REG Power Management recently signed a Development Services Agreement spanning two concept-stage wind farms in Scotland which will have a combined capacity of approximately 400 MW. The farm at Knockodhar could accommodate up to 50 turbines and Greenburn, approximately 15 turbines. This new investment adds to ESB’s existing platform of 400 MW, which is being developed in partnership with Coriolis Energy alongside an additional partnership with Savills to deliver a further 35 MW project.
Smart Energy Services
Smart Energy Services was established by ESB in 2016. This business unit works with large energy users to identify and implement efficient, cleaner and more affordable energy solutions. This is done by using data analytics capabilities, demand response management platforms and leveraging cutting-edge technology and finance to reduce energy consumption and costs for industrial and commercial customers.
During its first year of operations, Smart Energy Services partnered with more than 50 Irish and UK companies, including Tesco, to help deliver energy savings of over €20 million and reduce their energy use by more than
25%. The division aims to achieve €50 million in savings with its partner companies by 2018.
A skilled and capable workforce
ESB has a highly trained and committed workforce of more than 7,000 people operating in their diverse and high-skill business units. Five percent of ESB is held by the trustees of an Employee Share Ownership Plan. Every year, ESB Networks invests about €8.6 million in skills and training for its employees.
In 2016, ESB was awarded the Chambers Ireland Award for Overall Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The award also recognises the CSR impact of their staff through the operation of their social justice fund, Energy for Generation Fund and the volunteering efforts of their staff. In 2016 their staff recorded over 30,000 volunteering hours.
Annually the ESB Networks Apprenticeship Programme attracts a high number of applicants with participants learning a variety of electrical and practical skills. Approximately 300 apprentices are currently receiving world class training at their training centre in Portlaoise, Co Laois. Their award-winning Graduate Development Programme is also highly sought after by students. The three-year tailored programme offers students placements across a range of disciplines including Engineering, IT, Digital, Data Analytics, HR, Marketing Accountancy and Business.
Building a brighter future for our communities
ESB has a presence in every community in Ireland and they play a vital role in supporting these communities to build a brighter future and help them reach their full potential. The Energy for Generations Fund awards more than €1 million through quarterly funding to charities working in the areas of suicide prevention, alleviation of homelessness and education access and support.
The company helps to develop future talent by supporting the development of skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through partnerships with Science Gallery Dublin, Web Summit (ESB Spark of Genius) and Engineers Ireland. Through their partnership with the Science Gallery, they run MAKESHOP workshops to bring basic electronics workshops to young people across Ireland using their network of ESB volunteers.
They also actively work with Techspace, a national movement that aims to change the lives of young people in Ireland by becoming Ireland’s leading creative technology network for outcome focused youth development. A further €1 million a year is donated through support for Electric Aid, staff volunteering, in-kind support and other CSR initiatives. Their Wind Farm Community Funds are in place for all 19 of our wind farms across Ireland and the United Kingdom and they have invested €5m over the last five years in these communities and supported almost 450 projects in total.
Game plan for 2025
The plan is by 2025, ESB will be delivering one-third of its electricity from renewable generation and will achieve carbon net-zero by 2035. ESB is proactively supporting wind and solar energy through the trialling of ocean energy, the use and integration of battery-storage technologies and investing options to reduce the carbon intensity of its coal-fired and peat-fired stations.
For more visit www.esb.ie
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