ESB's Smart Energy Services: big data drives energy savings of up to 20 per cent

Substantial energy savings can be achieved at little or no expense to the businesses involved

John Walsh, Manager Smart Energy Services, ESB

John Walsh, manager Smart Energy Services, ESB


Energy is one of the most significant costs faced by business and even small savings can yield healthy bottom line benefits. It therefore makes sense for all businesses, regardless of size, to closely monitor their energy and water usage in order to minimise costs.

“Large financial and carbon emission savings can be made through online management of a customer's energy facilities and analysis of energy data,” says ESB Smart Energy Services manager John Walsh. “These can be facilitated by on-the-spot changes to energy systems through to implementing larger energy savings projects to reap even bigger savings.”

Indeed, Walsh points out that very substantial cost savings can be achieved at little or no expense to the businesses involved.

“This can come as a real surprise to many of our customers,” he says. “They are doing a very good job of managing day-to-day operations of their businesses, but they are missing out by not taking an energy perspective. If they did they would save between 10 and 15 per cent of their energy spend. A lot of our customers have an annual energy spend of €5 million so this is a very big potential saving.”

Energy Management Hub

This is where ESB’s Energy Management Hub comes in. The hub monitors all energy and water usage in a building and enables ESB’s team of experts to come up with solutions to control and reduce it.

The Energy Management Hub is at the core of everything we do

“We do a number of different things for our customers at ESB's Smart Energy Services,” Walsh adds. “We help them understand how they use energy and how better to control it. We use insights from our customers to design energy efficiency projects. We also design renewables projects and use battery storage to balance the load between day and night usage.


“These solutions are all built around how our customers use energy,” he continues. “The Energy Management Hub is at the core of everything we do. If we understand how and when customers use energy we can design really good efficiency and renewables solutions.”

ESB energy consultant, Enda Gilroy, explains that the Energy Management Hub is being employed to reduce energy usage within ESB itself. “We spend over €4.5 million annually on energy in our non-generation operations and we have a target to reduce this by 33 per cent by 2020. With 30 per cent already achieved we are making good progress,” he says.

Enda Gilroy, energy consultant, ESB
Enda Gilroy, energy consultant, ESB

“One of the steps in achieving this is monitoring the complex energy usage in our own portfolio of more than 80 properties and implementing our Energy Management Hub across them. We have begun by narrowing that list down to the top 21 energy sites and we have rolled out the Energy Management Hub to eight of them so far.”

The Gateway Building

Among these is ESB’s Gateway Building in Dublin 3 where savings of over 20 per cent have been achieved by making minor changes to the energy systems.

Quite a substantial saving was achieved through a very low-cost adjustment to boiler settings

“We did that by looking at the building and how it’s used,” says Gilroy. “We found that the energy consuming systems are not always optimised. For example, the whole building was being heated at times when only one floor was in use. We also found that the heating was coming on too early and staying on too late. The major gains were realised through the implementation of a Building Management System to control these things.”

Gilroy also points out that quite a substantial saving was achieved through a very low-cost adjustment to boiler settings. “You really can realise very substantial savings at very little cost,” he says.

In other buildings, the data yielded by the Energy Management Hub has resulted in recommendations for projects like lighting upgrades, retrofitting insulation into walls and roof spaces, and the installation of some self-generation such as solar PV and heat pumps.

It’s all about the data, Gilroy adds. “A lot of companies are data rich but information poor,” he says. “They may have some energy monitoring in place, but they do not have sufficient resources or skills to understand the data or the opportunities it presents to implement actions to reduce consumption. You need energy project management experience as well as energy analytics experience in order to understand what potential there is to react to these learnings and make energy savings and that’s what we offer at ESB's Smart Energy Services.”

Zero upfront cost

And the savings can be realised at zero upfront cost to the customer, according to John Walsh. “We go into risk sharing partnerships with many of our customers,” he says. “We are very comfortable that we will find opportunities for the savings which will finance the Energy Management Hub. We have the experience to know where the savings are. Our customers like that approach. It shows them we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

For more, visit esb.ie/smartenergyhub