Skip to Content
Back to Press Releases 20 November 2018

ESB partners with IBM to help retailers reap energy savings through AI & IoT applications

  • ESB and IBM Research-Ireland carry out Proof of Concept study to show how Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based analytics can realise energy savings
  • Tesco Ireland enjoys annualised energy savings of 25% through use of analytics and bespoke energy solutions

20 November 2018

ESB’s Smart Energy Services business unit engaged with IBM Research – Ireland to show retailers how the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) analytics can yield high energy savings.

This unique proof of concept research study focuses on the high energy consumption of refrigeration units in the retail sector, using IoT and AI based analytics to identify and validate savings potential for large energy users.  

This analysis of customer energy data is seen as the first step to identifying and delivering energy saving projects which unlock substantial energy savings and reduce carbon emissions. Based on the evidence provided in this study, ESB conducted a series of energy saving projects on refrigeration across the Tesco Ireland estate which delivered annualised savings of 10% on their refrigeration costs, with a 10GWH wastage avoidance. This represented a 5% savings overall in their energy usage.

For the last three  years, ESB’s Smart Energy Services has worked with Tesco Irelandin more than 151 stores nationally to deliver 25% savings in cost and emissions across a range of energy management initiatives. Data insights have played a major role in the delivery of these savings, enabling ESB to make changes to Tesco’s energy systems and prioritising energy capital investment.

Michael Mahon, Head of ESB’s Smart Energy Services, says the use of intelligence and analytics is becoming more critical in identifying and rectifying energy solutions.

“With energy being one of the most significant costs faced by business, it makes sense for businesses to closely monitor their energy usage to minimise costs. Through this study with Tesco we’ve seen how large financial and carbon emission savings can be identified through IoT and AI based energy data analytics, highlighting on-the-spot changes and longer term projects which can deliver even bigger savings.”

The cloud-based analysis of refrigeration in Tesco Ireland allowed the seamless data flow from sensor to cloud within one week of acquiring the data, thus demonstrating the scalability using the IBM cloud platform and analytics services.

"This collaborative project with IBM Research - Ireland and ESB to identify opportunities for energy savings across Tesco Ireland's retail outlets demonstrates how companies with the help of AI on IBM's cloud platform can unlock substantial energy savings using machine learning and IoT data," says Dr Wendy Bellumoni, Director IBM Research - Ireland. "It shows how AI and cloud is enabling ESB to lead the way in energy management while helping their customers create operational efficiencies, reduce energy consumption, and effectively optimise financial performance.”

Speaking about the success of this partnership, Geoff Byrne, chief operating officer, Tesco Ireland added:

“Being a sustainable business is very important to us, we are working with our customers, suppliers and partners to create a greener environment. We believe every little help makes a big difference, in recent years we have focused on implementing a wide range of energy efficiency and energy management measures across our 151 stores and distribution centres. Our partnership with the Smart Energy Services division of ESB has been vital in helping us identify and deliver energy efficiency projects ranging from our refrigeration units to high efficiency LED lighting upgrades, as well as heating and ventilation upgrades.”

Notes to Editor

The Study 

The ESB and IBM Research –Ireland cloud-based study was an analysis of refrigeration in Tesco Ireland stores using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to show the potential energy savings by making a series of adjustments or investment to their energy estate. 

The project demonstrates the capability and value of piping large swathes of data from existing metering sources, augmented by additional data coming from IoT sensoring and meter sources to cloud-based analytics services to show where opportunities lay to drive energy savings and reductions.

Some of the specific work streams included as part of this project:

  • Data and Metering enablement and cloud aggregation of large data sets
  • Testing of Scalable Refrigeration estate analytics
  • C02 optimisation
  • Identification of opportunities to upgrade equipment to reduce energy usage through
    • Compressor scheduling anomaly detection studies
    • Analytics for condenser and heat exchanger optimisation
  • Predictive Maintenance through the AI Optimization of energy rules (interventions)
    • Allowing for the prediction of impending equipment failure


Smart Energy Services, a business line in ESB, helps business deliver savings on their energy costs. The consultancy provides capital funding, energy management services and implementation of energy projects for businesses who are large users of energy. Smart Energy Services aims to deliver €150 million in energy savings to industrial and commercial customers in Ireland and the UK by 2020.

At IBM Research - Ireland our open approach to research, coupled with the deep curiosity of our Researchers, creates breakthrough client focused outcomes in domains such as IoT/Digital Twin, AI Security, Privacy, Healthcare, and Cloud. Together, we define and test new technologies on real business problems, discovering new growth opportunities and contributing to the success of IBM platforms and solutions.