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Back to Press Releases 12 March 2021


Financial Highlights

  • Capital Investment of €1.1 billion in energy infrastructure
  • Operating Profit before exceptional items of €616 million
  • Profit after exceptional items*, interest and tax €126 million
  • Dividends - €81 million, bringing to €1.2 billion paid to the Irish Exchequer in the last 10 years

Dublin, Friday 12th March 2021

ESB Group today published its Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2020 (FY 2020). In the context of a challenging operating environment brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, ESB delivered an operating profit before exceptional items of €616 million, a decrease of €66 million on 2019. ESB is recommending a dividend of €81 million, bringing to €1.2 billion paid to the Irish Exchequer in the last 10 years.

Electricity demand remained resilient for the full year (2020), with an overall year-on-year reduction of less than 1% in Ireland, as increased residential demand offset falls in the business sector impacted by COVID-19. On an overall basis, COVID-19 had c.€15 million negative impact on ESB’s operating profit primarily due to an increased provision for bad debts.

*In 2020, ESB had €247 million of exceptional charges including a non-cash impairment charge of €188 million made against its Carrington gas-fired power plant in Manchester. The operating environment for thermal generation plants has changed significantly in recent years due to competition, regulation and decarbonisation which gave rise to ESB impairing this asset. This charge represents about one per cent of ESB’s total asset base as of 31 December 2020. In addition, an exceptional charge of €59 million was required relating to an increase in the asset retirement obligation (ARO) associated with the future cost of the disposal of wooden electricity poles retired from the network.

ESB’s generation, supply and networks businesses, operating on the island of Ireland and Great Britain, continues to:

  • invest in critical electricity infrastructure (€1.1 billion in 2020), including renewable generation;
  • deliver reliable and safe electricity networks to 3.1 million customers; and
  • provide long term value to over one million Electric Ireland business and residential customers through enduring savings, customer service and product innovation.

Commenting on the results, Pat Fenlon, Chief Financial Officer, said: "Despite the operational challenges brought about by Covid-19 in 2020, ESB delivered a resilient set of financial results with operating profit before exceptional items of €616 million and invested more than €1.1 billion in critical energy infrastructure projects. At ESB, our focus remains on maintaining the supply of electricity, while also helping our most vulnerable customers and the communities in which we proudly serve. ESB is well positioned to meet the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to continue to deliver on our strategic ambition to lead the transition to reliable, affordable low-carbon energy for the benefit of all.”

ESB’s Brighter Future Strategy to 2030 outlines a commitment to lead the transition to reliable, affordable low-carbon energy for the benefit of our customers and the economy. This is demonstrated by:

  • Investing in low-carbon generation – in 2020 ESB commissioned its largest wind farm, Grousemount (114 MW) in Co Kerry which has the capacity to provide clean electricity to more than 70,000 homes, farms and businesses while continuing to reduce the carbon intensity of ESB’s generation fleet;
  • Developing the electricity network to facilitate increased renewable and other distributed energy resource connections along with increases in customer demand, including the installation of more than 245,000 smart meters; and
  • Empowering customers to take more control of their energy use through smart energy services for homes and businesses and investing in the upgrade of our nationwide electric vehicle charging network.


From the outset of Covid-19, ESB implemented its business continuity response plan across its business units, including its pandemic plan.  Recognising the essential role that ESB plays in society and the profound impact of the pandemic on its employees, customers and the wider community, we remain focused on three priority areas:

  1. Protecting the health and wellbeing of customers and employees while maintaining essential electricity supply by ensuring that our generating stations, wind farms, electricity networks operations, customer service and support functions continue to operate throughout this pandemic.
  2. Assisting customers experiencing financial difficulties by working with them to put in place workable and affordable payment solutions, where needed. This included suspending domestic and business disconnections, in addition to a €1 million fund whereby 10,000 registered vulnerable customers received €100 credit.
  3. Supporting our CSR partners to deliver services in the community by recognising the profound impact of COVID-19 on communities and stepping up our community support programme, volunteering both time and financial support to help those most at risk, including support of Pieta’s Darkness into Light Sunrise Appeal and provision of funding to the communities surrounding 26 of our wind farms in Ireland and the UK.


Electric Ireland remains focused on delivering value for its customers with innovative service solutions offered as part of the best long-term value in the market. Electric Ireland recently launched a suite of new Smart Meter products including Home Electric+ which will provide customers with key insights to help them manage electricity consumption, help save money and change behaviours to positively impact the environment.

ESB’s networks businesses (ESB Networks and NIE Networks) continue to focus on delivering reliable and safe electricity over increasingly smart networks to 3.1 million homes, farms and businesses across the island of Ireland. As in recent years, Ireland experienced adverse weather conditions in 2020 which had an impact on the network and customers, including Storm Ellen and Storm Francis in August, which required an enormous restoration response from ESB Networks and NIE Networks crews to restore power to more than 200,000 homes, farms and businesses.

Contribution to the Economy

ESB invested €1.1 billion in energy infrastructure investments in 2020.

ESB contributes €1.8 billion annually to the Irish economy through dividends, investments, taxes and jobs. ESB provides significant employment both directly, with over 7,900 employees, and indirectly through contractors and service providers. Read more here.

The ESB Group Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2020 can be found here –


For Further Information please contact:

Kieran O'Neill, ESB Media Relations Manager, Mobile: 00-353-87-9349200

About ESB

ESB operates across the electricity market; from generation, through transmission and distribution to the supply of customers with an expanding presence in the GB generation market. In addition, we extract further value through supplying gas and energy services and using our networks to carry fibre for telecommunications. ESB is the owner of the distribution and transmission networks in the Republic of Ireland (managed by ESB Networks) and Northern Ireland (via Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd).  In 2020 ESB had a 29% share of generation in the all-island market (via ESB Generation and Trading) and a 34% share of electricity supply in the all-island market (via Electric Ireland) with 1.5 million customer accounts.