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Back to Press Releases 08 October 2019

ESB provides low-carbon heat solution for a world-first greenhouse project in the UK

  • ESB designs and delivers the largest low-carbon heat solution for a 29 hectare greenhouse project in the UK
  • Greenhouses will be one of the UK’s and Ireland's largest and most sustainable agricultural greenhouse sites, equating to the size of 20 Croke Parks

7 October 2019

ESB's Smart Energy Services will provide an innovative energy solution for a world-first £120m greenhouse project, including the installation of the largest installed capacity of heat pumps in the UK.

Smart Energy Services – a business unit in ESB – has been deployed by Greencoat Capital to design, install and manage the combined heat pump (CHP) plants for what will be the UK’s largest and most sustainable agricultural greenhouse sites in Norfolk and Suffolk.

This project is set to provide the model for decarbonising agriculture and heat, using large scale energy solutions as an alternative to fossil fuel heated glasshouses. Once constructed, the greenhouses will provide ideal growing conditions for a range of plants and vegetables requiring high-heat, and relatively low-light environments such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, over a total of 177km of grower gutters.

Commenting on the innovative project, Ciaran Gallagher, Head of Smart Energy Services for ESB, said: “Enabling the electrification of heat is a key part of ESB’s Brighter Future strategy and we are committed to ongoing support and investment in this area, such as this exciting project with Greencoat Capital.

Through ESB's Smart Energy Services management of this greenhouse project, we are providing a viable low-carbon solution to significantly help reduce the emissions from a large-scale project. As with all other large energy users that we work with, this offering allows the greenhouses to reduce its carbon emission footprint."

The two greenhouse sites will cover 29 hectares, equating to the size of almost 20 Croke Park pitches. The combined heat and power plants will generate electricity for the heat pumps and will also provide supplementary CO2 to accelerate crop growth recapturing a high proportion of carbon created.  All the electricity and heat produced by the CHP units will be utilised on site, making them some of the most efficient units installed in the UK.
ESB's Smart Energy Services open-loop heat pump solution will transfer heat from the nearby water recycling centre to the greenhouses, with the additional benefit of cooling the facility’s treated water outflow before it is returned to the environment.

The construction phase of the project is set to begin immediately, with completion expected in Autumn 2020.


About ESB's Smart Energy Services

ESB's Smart Energy Services is a business line within ESB which offers businesses and developers large scale low-carbon energy solutions to reduce emissions and energy usage, leveraging its core engineering and multi-technology expertise. ESB works in Ireland and the UK on major infrastructural projects, bringing together experience as an energy consultancy, energy management services and implementation of enegy projects for business with large energy consumption needs. 

Smart Innovation in Greenhouse design delivered by ESB's Smart Energy Services  

During the summer months, when there is excess heat in the Bury greenhouse, the heat pump transfers waste water to waste heat and then it is stored in a ground source reducing the requirement for additional energy consumption over the winter months. The heat pumps will generate 70 megawatts of thermal power. At the Norwich site alone, the heat requirements amount to the same used in 9,500 new build homes.

At current grid carbon levels, the design of this Energy Centre will provide 1.2 million tonnes of carbon savings over the 20- year life of the project versus a standard combined heat and power glasshouse. As grid carbon continues to decrease significantly, total carbon savings will be far greater.