ESB Networks plans to deliver low-carbon electricity by 2030

Distribution network will help Ireland achieve climate ambitions, energy body says

ESB Networks will change how customers consume and store electricity. The transition, involving an investment of €200 million, will backed by smart technologies.

ESB Networks will change how customers consume and store electricity. The transition, involving an investment of €200 million, will backed by smart technologies.

 

ESB Networks is to decarbonise Ireland’s power distribution network by 2030, which will coincide with big changes in how electricity customers consume and store electricity, it has announced.

The transition, involving an investment of €200 million, will backed by optimal uses of renewable energy sources and widespread deployment of smart technologies, it said on Thursday.

The nine-year project – the National Network, Local Connections Programme – is a key part of its €4 billion-plus network investment programme up to 2025, it added, and “will transform how energy on Ireland’s electricity network is managed and consumed at a local level by customers and communities across the country”.

The programme’s manager, Ellen Diskin, said: “This will create new opportunities for customers, from renewable generators to homes, farms, communities and businesses, as they adopt new technologies, manage their energy costs and drive down their carbon footprint.”

ESB Networks said it would also be the first step to collaborating across the energy sector, to create new opportunities for customers to use and store electricity locally. This will include microgeneration and ability to feed power onto the grid.

Evolving technologies

To redesign and optimise the network for renewable, customer and community participation, it is engaging with emerging energy companies, renewable energy generators, technology developers and manufacturers.

In tandem with this, it is consulting with communities, consumers and representative bodies that will be crucial to the adoption of evolving technologies, products and services that are coming on stream such as solar panelling, heat pumps, electric vehicles and smart electricity plans including products facilitated by the National Smart Metering Programme.

Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan welcomed the move to transform the electricity distribution network. It would facilitate use of more renewable energy, he predicted, and “support increased electrification of heat and transport along with sustainable electrification products, technologies and services for homes, farms and businesses across Ireland”.

The programme “is making a secure, low-carbon network a reality for us all. It is an initiative that is to be applauded and engaged with by all in society over the coming years as we begin to change in how we consume and manage our electricity usage. In doing so, this programme will assist greatly in Ireland hitting its climate goals,” he said.

Smart system

With more renewable generation and more efficient electricity consumption with active participation from stakeholders and consumers, the programme “will put in place a smart electricity system that is safe and secure, responsive to new local and regional needs”, Ms Diskin added.

The change was all about consumers using electricity differently, as well as generating it differently – “and building a system to marry both”. It was the power equivalent of Google maps which indicates route and traffic, she explained, but in this case it would indicate when green electricity is available and when there is a lot of power on the grid.

“ESB cannot do this alone, it depends on participation” backed by smart metering, she said. Some 500,000 Irish homes have smart meters, while they are due to be installed in all householders by 2024.

Digital information infrastructure was a gamechanger for householders and the energy sector, she said, but consumers should be curious about the opportunity arising from that, especially in relation to their energy choice.

Managing director of ESB Networks Nicholas Tarrant said they were proud this initiative would play “a critical role in achieving the 2030 targets set out in the Government’s climate action plan and our path to net zero”.