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Using innovation to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs for business

ESB’s Smart Energy Services partners with large organisations to implement high-tech, energy-efficient solutions that are sustainable and meet climate action targets

ESB’s Smart Energy Services is helping private and public sector organisations throughout Ireland and the UK to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint. The dedicated business unit adopts a highly innovative energy partnership approach to assist large energy users to meet their energy saving and decarbonisation goals.

This approach sees ESB’s Smart Energy Services deliver the innovative technology, knowledge, tools, expertise, agility and in some cases financing, necessary to implement large-scale energy projects, while significantly reducing risk and opportunity costs. The financial assistance is repaid over time out of energy cost savings earned by the partnering organisation

Coral Leisure

One customer to benefit from this partnership approach is Coral Leisure, one of Ireland’s largest leisure management companies. The company wanted to reduce its energy usage and costs as well as its carbon emissions. ESB’s Smart Energy Services implemented high-tech, energy-efficient LED lighting retrofits across all its leisure facilities as well as installing swimming pool covers, de-stratification fans and improved heating controls where appropriate.

“One of the main reasons Coral Leisure partnered with us was because we offer financial support along with engineering and project management services,” says Paul Fitzpatrick, head of customer solutions with ESB’s Smart Energy Services. “Coral Leisure did not have the internal cash flow to implement a project of this size so ESB’s Smart Energy Services was able to provide the upfront capital to enable them to make immediate energy savings.”

Fitzpatrick explains the process which ESB follows to deliver projects like this. It starts with an initial consultation. “We have a conversation about how much energy the company normally uses, and we then present a solution of how much we can help them save,” he explains. “That’s normally in the 10 to 40 per cent range. We explain the concept, the background, the funding options, and agree on a project which will help the customer achieve their objectives.”

Dundee City Council

In the UK, ESB’s Smart Energy Services team worked with Dundee City Council to deliver two major sustainable heating projects. The council has set ambitious climate action goals for itself – a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2045. The city’s location, just a few kilometres from the North Sea, and its average temperature of just 8.3 degrees Celsius, puts the challenge of meeting these goals in perspective.

The projects delivered a combined capacity of 4.9 megawatts, were delivered in just 18 months and earned two Scottish Green Energy awards for Dundee City Council and ESB’s Smart Energy Services.

V&A Dundee

The first of these projects was the design and installation of a low carbon heating and cooling system for the city’s V&A Museum. Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, V&A Dundee is Scotland’s first design museum and the first Victoria & Albert Museum outside of London.

When the museum first opened its doors on Dundee’s newly redeveloped waterfront in 2018, few visitors could have guessed what lay beneath.  While the building itself is a stunning testament to the power of imagination and collaboration, its low-carbon heating and cooling system is a feat of engineering and ingenuity.

Given the museum’s northerly location, many are surprised to learn the building’s HVAC system runs on geothermal and air-sourced energy.

“We modelled a variety of low- and no-carbon technologies,” says ESB’s Smart Energy Services customer solutions manager John Mackintosh. “The ground source heat pumps draw geothermal energy from a closed-loop array 200 metres beneath the site where temperatures are relatively constant. A rooftop air source heat pump offers the greatest cost efficiency and carbon savings.”

The system delivers 800 kilowatts of heating and 500 kilowatts of cooling energy, produces 54 per cent less carbon than a traditional HVACs and saves 105 per cent in operating costs. This performance was very important for Dundee City Council when commissioning the project.

“As a city in a country with some of the most ambitious decarbonisation plans in the world, one of our biggest challenges has been to ensure economic growth, while reducing emissions,” says Rob Pederson, architectural services manager with Dundee City Council.

The Council’s partnership approach to sustainable development has been a huge success. The impact of V&A Dundee on the local economy has been very significant, delivering £21 million in its first 12 months of operation.

Caird Park

Results like these have set a high bar for the city’s other sustainable development projects, including the Caird Park District Heating Centre, the second project delivered by ESB’s Smart Energy Services. Scotland’s largest Ground Source Heat Pump System, Caird Park draws its energy from 120 boreholes drilled 200 metres into the rock below, as well as a rooftop solar thermal array. The system also utilises a small combined heat and power engine to direct energy to where it’s needed, improving overall efficiency.

Caird Park currently delivers 3.5 megawatts of low carbon district heating on-site to the Regional Performance Centre for Scotland, a high-tech sports facility. Phase two will supply energy to Dundee’s social housing, alleviating fuel poverty for many of the city’s residents while demonstrating the transformative power of sustainable technologies.

“Dundee City Council’s aggressive sustainable development targets really focused the team and inspired new ways of looking at existing technologies,” says Ciaran Gallagher, ESB’s head of Smart Energy Services. “As engineers and analysts, using the latest technology can be tempting but reducing investment risk and maximising efficiencies are essential to success. Being recognised at the Scottish Green Energy Awards two years running has been great. But the real reward comes with knowing we’ve made a difference to create a low-carbon future.”

“We’ve been lucky to have our ambitious vision shared by partners such as ESB,” Pederson adds. “Their results-oriented solutions and critical analyses have been an asset to the people of Dundee.”

The current pause in operations for many businesses offers an opportunity to undertake decarbonisation projects, says Gallagher. “This is an ideal time to invest in the green economy. That’s why ESB’s Smart Energy Services has in place a €75 million fund to assist organisations on their decarbonisation journey. This will enable them to embark on major energy reduction projects without the need for an upfront capital investment.”

ESB’s Smart Energy Services works with businesses from a variety of sectors to identify smarter and more innovative ways to reduce energy costs. Some clients include major organisations such as Dublin Airport Authority, Medite, BWG, Tesco and CHQ, amongst many others.

To find out how your organisation can reduce carbon and costs, visit www.esb.ie/smartenergy.