Leading insulation products manufacturer Xtratherm has partnered with ESB’s Smart Energy Services to significantly reduce its carbon footprint and energy costs by installing a rooftop solar PV array at its Navan facility. The new installation will deliver around 17 per cent of the company's power needs using ESB’s Smart Energy Services’ €75 million fund.
ESB’s Smart Energy Services Fund is available to help large energy users realise tangible energy savings and make significant carbon emissions reductions. Under the agreement with ESB’s Smart Energy Services, Xtratherm will pay for the power generated by the solar array for the next 20 years, while ESB’s Smart Energy Services manages, operates and maintains the asset for that period. And not only does Xtratherm get a supply of clean, green electricity, it also reduces its energy costs.
ESB’s solar PV offering addresses the difficulties which many organisations experience in achieving a return in such large infrastructural projects. ESB, working closely with their framework partner Grange Solar, designed a 1MW Solar PV system that would offset Xtratherm’s carbon footprint, have a minimal impact on the company’s business operations, ensure a low construction carbon footprint, deliver lower cost electricity, and pay for itself over the 20-year period of the agreement.
“We own and operate the system for 20 years,” explains ESB’s Smart Energy Services commercial contracts manager, Eoghan McMahon. “The client reduces their overall energy costs. It’s a forward-thinking project and it’s great to be supporting a company like Xtratherm.”
Xtratherm has a clear vision of where the company is going on its sustainability journey, he adds. “They have set out their roadmap to zero carbon. They have completed the behavioural changes, they have completed energy saving projects like installing LED lighting and so on, and now they have progressed onto the next stage which is renewable power. The company is a flagship organisation for the country in terms of its sustainability goals and ambitions. To see an Irish company really taking a lead in that space is extremely encouraging,” McMahon says.
Xtratherm has always been mindful of its environmental impact, says managing director Barry Rafferty. “We act and invest in ways that reduce environmental harm and improve our effect on communities,” he says. “At the heart of what we do is making buildings better and more thermally efficient. Some years ago, we formalised our response to the climate emergency with a more substantial, target-driven sustainability strategy – encompassing our business, customers, communities, and families.”
In 2016, the company installed solar PV panels at its Chesterfield plant in the UK and is currently expanding this capacity. “We expect that 25 per cent of our power in Chesterfield will be met with the latest installation,” Rafferty points out.
ESB's Smart Energy Services Fund is available to help large energy users realise tangible energy savings and make significant carbon emissions reductions
The Navan project with ESB’s Smart Energy Services marks a continuation of Xtratherm’s move to clean energy as a key element of its sustainability efforts. “It’s complex and involves not just our work practices but also suppliers, procurement and the communities in which we work and live, it is an exciting project that involves all members of our team,” says Rafferty. “We are moving to ensure all of our energy is green, also requiring suppliers to be more transparent in their raw materials usage. Our target is to be a zero-carbon operation by 2030.”
ESB formed an ongoing partnership with subcontractor Grange Solar to deliver the project which comprises 2,214 455W solar modules and eight 100kW Inverters mounted on the Xtratherm roof with all construction and installation work carried out by Grange Solar. To maximise the output from the solar PV panels, the design team incorporated an in-plane mounting system on the southeast facing roof slopes as well as a fixed tilt mounting system on the northwest facing roof slopes.
“At Grange Solar, we work with clients to assess their specific energy requirements. We then design a bespoke system that suits their specific operational needs. Consideration is not only given to the energy requirements but also to the suitability and durability of a building to accommodate a rooftop solar PV system,” says Grange Solar founder and director Robbie Corcoran.
During the construction, particular attention was paid to the roof area, with a high quality health and safety procedure implemented during construction and a permanent fall arrest system installed for the duration of the 20-year maintenance agreement. ESB will operate and maintain the asset to ensure that the Solar PV array is performing at its optimum capacity for the duration of the term. “Providing such support to business customers is a key element of our strategy in leading the transition to a low-carbon future,” says McMahon.
Clients can save as much as 33 per cent on standard power costs by availing of ESB's Smart Energy Services' funded Solar Solutions
The project will displace 882,800kwh of grid electricity with renewable electricity every year. It will also result in the elimination of the equivalent to 625,625kg of CO2 emissions per year or 12.5 million kg for the 20-year term.
“Clean energy is a key part of our sustainability programme,” says Rafferty. “We are moving to ensure that all of our energy is green, and we are requiring our suppliers to be more transparent in their raw materials usage. We have upped the pace and scale of our transition to renewables, all focused on our target of having 100 per cent renewable sourced energy by 2030. We are never going to have zero carbon products but we can be a zero-carbon operation with third party certification. A battery storage option and extra solar capacity is being scoped with ESB with a view to installation in 2022. The current solar installation will account for approximately 17 per cent of power use on site and battery storage relates to the energy produced when we are not operating at weekends and so on. None of the electricity is wasted as it goes to the grid, but we would prefer if we were able to store it for use during the week here,” he adds.
This is the largest ESB operated solar array in Ireland, McMahon notes. “Xtratherm is a great company to work with. Clients can save as much as 33 per cent on standard power costs by availing of ESB’s Smart Energy Services’ funded Solar Solutions. This project is the first of many more to come around the country,” he adds.
To cut your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint, find out about ESB’s €75 million decarbonisation fund - esb.ie/smartenergy