Sustainability in ESB

Sustainability is the way ESB addresses the challenge of achieving a low carbon future. We are committed to playing a leading role in meeting this challenge through a variety of operational measures.

Our Approach to Sustainability

ESB Sustainability Column that showcases the potential of sustainability in Ireland


Sustainability adds real value to ESB by contributing directly towards our strategy through both big and small initiatives. Sustainability is a key enabler to the corporate strategy and delivers against each of the strategic priorities of our strategy in a very significant way.

  • Sustainability supports the creation of world-class networks through smart metering and smart networks to the facilitation of renewable energy on the network.
  • In growing our generation and supply businesses, sustainability adds value through developing new renewable energy sources, reducing our CO2 emissions from our power stations and developing new energy services solutions to meet the growing customer demand for sustainable products and services.
  • Sustainability enables ESB to develop new business opportunities arising from the low carbon economy and innovation is an important part of the new corporate strategy.
  • Sustainability has delivered real value in transforming how we work delivering real value to the business.
  • Our sustainability champions have shown how sustainability has captured the imagination of staff right throughout the company to demonstrate what an agile and engaged organisation looks and feels like.

Capital investment on the networks system is primarily focused on reinforcing the transmission system to accommodate new wind generation that will be connected to the system before the end of the decade. By the end of 2012, approximately 1,740 MW of wind generation was connected to the system and this is expected to increase to 5,000 MW by the end of 2020. We also continue to invest in the distribution system to improve reliability of supply and ensure the safety of the network.

Infrastructure renewal and upgrading the 10kV network to 20kV has also resulted in significant reductions in network losses. Conversion of a distribution line from 10kV to 20kV doubles the capacity of the line and reduces losses by 75%. In 2012, 1,875kms of 10kV line was upgraded to 20kV resulting in energy efficiency savings of 19GWh. To date, 42,000kms of 10kV network has been converted to 20kV, delivering approximately 180GWHs savings in losses. This is equivalent savings of almost 180,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Smart networks are a key link in the integration of clean and renewable generation along the electricity value chain to customers and their energy devices. ESB Networks aims to be a recognised leader in the area of energy and environmental sustainability and has developed an integrated smart networks strategy to meet national targets.

Electric Ireland works with customers to help them reduce usage and get better value from their electricity consumption, through the promotion of energy efficient products and energy awareness campaigns. These campaigns included energy efficiency advice, ESB’s online store and web-based tools including the ‘Appliance Calculator’ and the ‘Energy Wizard’ home auditing tool, also available as an app.

Electric Ireland has increased sales of energy efficiency measures through our home services offerings. A full installation service, including home insulation, gas boiler servicing and upgrades, heat pumps, solar panels, and BER (Building Energy Rating) certification is provided. A major urban refurbishment project of 500 homes has been completed in conjunction with Dundalk Town Council and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The Better Energy Programme, administered by SEAI, is a key component of the National Plan to deliver the EU target of 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

Generation and Wholesale Markets (G&WM) comprises generation, trading and asset development activities. G&WM’s investment strategy is to build a balanced low carbon generation portfolio of scale in the all-Island market. The implementation of this strategy was advanced significantly in 2012 with the successful financing of the Carrington power plant near Manchester, England. Construction commenced on this 880 MW combined cycle gas turbine project in late 2012 and it is expected to reach commercial operations in early 2016.

There are currently 10 hydro power stations across Ireland and local amenities have been provided on the waters surrounding hydro power stations based on a sense of good citizenship. Our fisheries role is part of our commitment to Ireland’s environment, particularly its waterways and fish stocks.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks is responsible in Northern Ireland for the planning, development, construction and maintenance of the transmission and distribution network and for the operation of the distribution network. Since its privatisation in 1993, NIE Networks has made significant investment in network infrastructure to meet requirements in respect of the connection of renewable generation and in Northern Ireland.

NIE Networks is involved in a range of sustainability initiatives including;

  • NIE Networks have achieved ISO14001 Certification for their Environmental Management System
  • NIE Networks have facilitated the installation of 45 electric vehicle charging points across Northern Ireland for electric vehicles
  • NIE Networks have actively reduced energy consumption over the past seven years achieving an overall reduction in energy consumption since 2005 of over 28%
  • NIE Networks have increased the efficiency of its transport fleet by 18% through a range of energy efficiency measures
  • NIE Networks are involved in pilot test studies on the potential of smart metering with customers

Staff throughout ESB have been engaged with the sustainability agenda since the beginning of the Programme in 2008. One of the great successes is the way in which it promotes innovation and fresh-thinking throughout the organisation, as teams and individuals identify new and more efficient ways of working.

ESB Sustainable Cycling event in 2012 demonstrates our commitment to sustainable action within the organisation


Engaging our Staff in Sustainability Initiatives

ESB encourages its staff to get involved in sustainability and staff support and engagement is a key part of our sustainability strategy. We want to lead by example by using energy responsibly in all our internal business activities - a specific aim of our focused change programme.

Sustainability Champions are the backbone of this network of engaged and enthusiastic staff. These Champions are staff who, in addition to their normal duties, takes on extra responsibilities associated with promoting and co-ordinating sustainability activities in their own locations.

ESB always encourages staff to record sustainable initiatives to further improve performance. Our annual Sustainability Awards recognise staff for their collective and individual commitment to working in a sustainable manner. ESB also encourages and facilitates staff to avail of sustainable travel options.

Working with Customers

ESB has a strong track record of working with customers to ensure that they use electricity in an energy efficient manner. Today our supply business Electric Ireland has a wide range of energy services tailored for business and domestic customers to help reduce costs and become more sustainable. In addition to specific products and services designed to save energy, we also offer advice to customers on how to achieve savings in their energy usage to cut costs.

ESB and Sustainable Procurement

ESB is committed to procuring goods and services in a sustainable manner. ESB’s sustainable procurement objectives and the process for achieving these objectives are understood and championed by all key procurement personnel across the business. The key sustainable procurement objectives are;

  • Life cycle costing is adopted for all appropriate contracts.
  • All contracts that require the provision of labour on ESB sites are subject to the provisions of ESB Contractor Employment Standards Policy, which includes the provision of contractor signoffs and third party audits.
  • Specifications where appropriate call for the submission of sustainability variants.
  • Tenders take account of our ethical sourcing requirements.
  • Waste management and environment assessments are conducted in compliance with appropriate Business Unit Regulations.

In 2012 we undertook a review of ESB’s approach to ensuring a sustainable supply chain across all activities. This led to the development of a Sustainable Procurement Checklist which is currently being trialled to ensure that sustainability is considered during all phases of the contract cycle. In addition, a four-year Sustainable Procurement Roadmap is under development to ensure that the delivery of our sustainable procurement goals and its associated review process are managed in a coherent and structured manner.

Engaging with our Customers on Sustainability Practices

ESB’s corporate social responsibility aim is to be exemplary in every aspect of our business operations to ensure ESB has a positive impact on our staff, the markets in which we conduct our business, the environment in which we operate and the communities we serve. This ambition is aligned with our vision to be Ireland’s foremost energy company competing successfully in the all-islands market and underpinned by our aim of conducting all our affairs with our customers, partners, stakeholders and the public with integrity and to the highest ethical standards.

Since publication of our first Corporate Social Responsibility report in 2004, we have continued to deepen our understanding of the concept and ensure that responsible action underlies all our decisions at ESB. It reflects our commitment to being a successful, responsible and progressive company contributing to the economic and social life of Ireland and of those countries where we operate abroad.

Our industry is going through very significant change. This presents us with challenges to ensure that we adapt our business processes in a responsible manner. But we are as committed to the social and environmental dimensions of our business as to our financial performance. We are in business for the long term - and that means we aim to ensure our actions have a positive, fair and ethical impact on all our stakeholders.

ESB Sustainability Reports