Retail sector can reap great savings from ESB’s Smart Energy Services

Working with retailers such as Tesco Ireland and BWG, ESB’s Smart Energy Services have created substantial savings

Energy represents a significant opportunity for retailers  to reduce costs and we help them exploit that, says ESB customer solutions manager Ronan Geraghty

Energy represents a significant opportunity for retailers to reduce costs and we help them exploit that, says ESB customer solutions manager Ronan Geraghty


ESB's Smart Energy Services is working with a number of Ireland’s leading retailers to deliver quite dramatic savings of between 25 and 50 per cent on their annual energy bills.

“Energy represents a significant proportion of a retailer’s operating costs,” explains ESB's Smart Energy Services manager John Walsh.

John Walsh, manager Smart Energy Services, ESB
John Walsh, manager Smart Energy Services, ESB

“Lighting, refrigeration, heating, ventilation and air conditioning are all examples of essential but costly services where significant savings can be made.”

According to Walsh, these are different to other business costs as they can be reduced without compromising the customer experience.

“There are many innovations in low energy technologies that offer the opportunity to reduce costs while improving the store environment, thus allowing the store owner to either invest elsewhere in the business, such as improving customer service or increasing the store’s profitability,” he says.

Demonstrating green credentials by being energy efficient can also offer significant brand and reputational benefits. “Studies show that a third of consumers make purchase decisions based on their environmental and social impact, and more than half are willing to spend more on sustainable brands,” says Walsh. “Doing good for the environment is definitely good for business.”

Retailers are naturally focused on their core business and may miss out on energy savings as a result, says ESB customer solutions manager Ronan Geraghty. “Retailers tend to concentrate on sales, turnover, market share and so on. But energy represents a significant opportunity for them to reduce costs and we help them exploit that. We have a very experienced team of engineers who understand the retail sector really well. They deliver individualised solutions for retailers depending on the precise nature of their business. It’s not a one-size fits all approach.”


Lighting is a key area. High efficiency LED lighting can reduce energy costs and improve in-store operations and a shopper’s experience, says Geraghty.

LED lighting offers much better quality of light distribution, giving the store a better look and feel

“LED lighting is now a mature and proven technology around the world and a large number of retail environments have successfully retrofitted to it,” he adds. “Although LED energy consumption is up to 70 per cent less than conventional lighting, it still delivers the same lighting output and quality. They also generate far less heat and they last longer which significantly reduces the maintenance requirements and costs.”

He also points out that they offer opportunities to improve the lighting scheme and ambience of retail outlets. “The great thing about LED lighting is that apart from its cost benefits it offers much better quality of light distribution and focuses lights in one direction giving the store a better look and feel.”


Refrigeration makes up the biggest single energy cost item for many retailers and even small changes can make a significant impact on a grocer’s bottom line. “We offer a range of energy management services to retailers where we remotely monitor fridges, respond to active alerts and identify issues with the refrigeration set up,” says Geraghty. “Our team can then recommend optimisation measures to the customers’ refrigeration suppliers to maximise the efficiency of their refrigeration systems. Sometimes this can involve capital investment in improved compressors or newer equipment and on other occasions better control is what is required.”

When we understand how and when customers use energy we can design really good efficiency solutions

This is all carried out through ESB’s Energy Management Hub. The hub monitors all energy usage in a retail outlet and ESB’s team of experts use the data to come up with solutions to control and reduce it.

“We help our retail customers understand how they use energy and how better to control it. We use data insights to recommend and design energy efficiency projects,” says Walsh. “The Energy Management Hub is at the core of everything we do. When we understand how and when customers use energy we can design really good efficiency solutions.”


Some examples of companies that have benefited from ESB's expertise include Tesco Ireland and BWG, which is best known for its Spar, Mace and Londis retail outlets.

ESB's Smart Energy Services worked with Tesco’s energy, property and maintenance teams on a range of energy efficiency and management measures which resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in Tesco’s annual energy costs across its 148 retail stores in the Republic of Ireland. Seventy-six stores were retrofitted with high-efficiency LED lighting which, together with previous upgrades, completed Tesco’s 148 retail store lighting upgrade project.

“We’ve also optimised the control and operation of lighting, refrigeration, heating and ventilation systems across all stores,” says Geraghty.

“ESB’s Smart Energy Services team has provided us with the innovation we needed to substantially reduce our energy consumption and energy costs as well as improving the comfort and look of our stores,” says Patrick Duffy, Tesco energy manager.

Retailers can focus on their core business while we deliver the energy expertise

As one of Ireland’s leading grocery wholesale and retail operators, BWG was looking for a collaborative partner to manage a lighting retrofit project across a number of its retail partner stores.

“We needed a lighting retrofit solution that would ensure our franchisees received value for money and cost savings, without compromising experience of their customers or employees,” says Aidan Keane, financial director at BWG.

The result was a reduction of between 50 and 60 per cent in lighting energy costs per store which in turn delivered a reduction in overall annual energy consumption of 2.8gw while CO2 emissions were cut by a massive 1,400 tonnes.

Best of all, as Ronan Geraghty points out, these savings and benefits can be achieved at no upfront cost whatsoever to the retailer. “We have capital funding available for us to deploy on behalf of our customers,” he explains. “We implement solutions on a risk-sharing basis. We pay the upfront capital costs and then we share the savings with the customer over a given period. We also deploy lighting-as-a-service solutions which are very cost-efficient for customers.

"This frees clients up to invest in other areas. ESB's Smart Energy Services looks after everything – project management, measurement, verification, the design of lighting and other solutions, and the capital outlay if necessary. Retailers can focus on their core business while we deliver the energy expertise.”

For more, visit esb.ie/smartenergyhub