ESB was established in 1927 to promote the development of the Shannon hydroelectric scheme at Ardnacrusha, County Clare, which was one of the largest engineering projects of its day. When it was first built, the 86MW plant at Ardnacrusha was adequate to meet the electricity demand of the entire country. Today it continues to play an important role in the provision of electricity for the country and is a source of environmentally friendly “green power”.
As well as the Ardnacrusha power station, ESB currently operates hydro stations on the Liffey, Lee and the Erne rivers.
ESB has a proven record of technological leadership and has recently established the innovation portfolio which ranges from eCars to ESB International. This offers the company exciting opportunities both at home and overseas.
ESB has appointed John McSweeney as Head of Innovation. In this role he will be responsible for overseeing the development of innovation across the clean technology sector including, renewable energy, emerging low-carbon technologies as well as delivering innovation in smart networks and meters and electric vehicle infrastructure.
“The development of a substantial renewable energy portfolio is designed to support Ireland’s target of generating 40 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020,” says McSweeney.
“In addition, there are significant efficiencies to be made by moving to smart grid technology and the electric vehicle infrastructure will facilitate the decarbonisation of the transport sector,” he said.
While the primary development focus is currently on wind generation, ESB is also proactively developing marine energy and biomass.
ESB’s first wind farm was commissioned in 1998 at Crockahenny in Co. Donegal. The company now has an operational portfolio of 333MW covering 17 wind farm sites across the island of Ireland and in Britain. It has a further three wind farm projects under construction, bringing the company’s total generation from wind to 390MW by early 2013.
The wave resource on the west coast and tidal resource on the north and east coasts comprise a massive untapped energy source. Finding a means to convert even a small proportion of this resource to useful electricity will make a major contribution to Ireland’s energy needs.
In 2008, ESB invested in the start up phase and provided engineering support to Marine Current Turbine’s 1.2MW SeaGen tidal wave turbine in Strangford Lough, Co Down. Currently Electric Ireland, ESB’s supply business, purchases the power from SeaGen to supply customers.
More recently, ESB is developing the WestWave project, which aims to install and operate Ireland’s first wave energy project, capable of generating five megawatts of renewable electricity. This is an initial project to prove the viability of converting wave energy to electricity in Ireland. WestWave is led by ESB with four technology partners including two of Ireland’s leading technology companies, Wavebob Ltd and Ocean Energy Ltd as well as leading international technology firms, Pelamis Wave Power Ltd and Aquamarine Power Ltd.
In addition, ESB has conducted extensive research in the area of biomass in our thermal solid fuel stations.
Over the past decade, ESB has undertaken a €6 billion investment programme to successfully refurbish the country’s electricity infrastructure. Ireland has now one of the leading electricity systems worldwide in terms of safety and reliability. This investment is also supporting the continuing development of a ‘smart grid’ to accommodate increasing quantities of wind generation on the system. It is also facilitating the introduction of smart metering and electric vehicle technology which have significant energy efficiency potential for all customers.
Recognising the new levels of innovation needed to meet the future changes in the way power is generated, delivered and consumed, ESB set up a €200m fund to invest in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. With a commitment of €200m, the fund, ESB Novusmodus, is one of the largest cleantech funds in Europe. Since it was established in 2009, ESB Novusmodus has committed almost 50 per cent of its total funds in ten investments in the renewables (wind, solar and geothermal) and energy efficiency sectors (lighting, waste heat recovery and technology). The investment made in Ireland is supporting over 270 jobs.
The future for renewable energy at ESB is bright and it will form an increasing proportion of the generation mix over the coming years.
Further details on ESB can be found at www.esb.ie
Supporting wind energy development in Ireland since 1992
ESB’s involvement in the wind energy sector stretches back two decades when ESB International (ESBI) acted as owner’s engineer for the Department of Energy during the development of Ireland’s first commercial wind farm.
Since then, ESBI has worked on over 30 wind farm projects, gaining valuable experience across a wide diversity of landscapes, geologies and ecological environments.
ESBI expertise in this area offers an end-to-end solution for wind farm developers, spanning all project stages from environmental assessments and wind analyses, to layout optimisation, construction and operations. By identifying and mitigating project risks and optimising site potential, ESBI helps developers to avoid costly mistakes and to maximise long-term returns.
Since 1998, ESBI has acted as project manager for all wind farms constructed by ESB, including the recently commissioned Fullabrook Wind Farm in Devon, the largest onshore wind farm in England.