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How to reduce energy costs for your business

For businesses with an average electricity spend of more than €1 million per year, ESB’s Smart Energy Services has a range of tailor-made solutions designed to reduce energy costs without the need for upfront investment.

Across industries such as transport, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, food and agriculture, electrical consumption is a significant contributor to rising operational costs.

This is one of the reasons why the ESB’s Smart Energy Services team partners with large energy users – to help them to reduce energy consumption and costs, as well as carbon emissions.

For businesses with an average electricity spend of over €1 million per year, we have a range of tailor-made solutions designed to reduce energy costs without the need for upfront capital investment.

“Large energy users are very clued into the requirement to better manage their energy costs, but part of the problem they face is that they don’t know who to turn to for help,” explains Paul Fitzpatrick, ESB’s Smart Energy Services manager.

“When it comes to energy, their priority is that the lights are on and everything is working properly. We work with our customers and determine how best their energy is being used, and review their consumption to identify what’s working to ensure it is effective,” says Fitzpatrick.

ESB’s Smart Energy Services works in partnership with its client companies to find the most effective ways to optimise their energy consumption.

Man smiling in front of window with ESB logoPaul Fitzpatrick, ESB’s Smart Energy Services manager

Follow the data

We work in partnership with our client companies to find the most effective ways to optimise their energy consumption.

One way to do this is to install smart building controls. These controls provide the data that we analyse closely, to highlight inefficiencies and to ensure efficiencies are maximised.

Sometimes it’s simply a question of tweaking existing processes.

“Based on the data findings, our team can look at operations and ask, for example, if you could flatten your energy use curve by putting this machine on between 7pm and 9pm, rather than from 4pm to 6pm?” explains Fitzpatrick. “Very often the answer is yes,” he adds.

When you’re battling with high costs, having a knowledgeable team on hand to help can feel like the cavalry has arrived. “There is very often a sigh of relief when we turn up. We speak their language,” says Fitzpatrick.

Among the solutions provided include solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, large scale heat pumps, wind turbines, battery storage, next generation smart lighting solutions and an energy management hub, which manages the data from the installation of smart building control systems and can furnish maps and graphs of consumption changes.

Carbon reduction is essential for business growth and competitiveness

Increasingly, having a carbon reduction plan in place will be required by businesses tendering for major projects or looking to become approved suppliers.

“If companies don’t have one, they can lose out on contracts,” says Fitzpatrick, who has seen first-hand how carbon accounting is now prioritised at C-suite level. “Five years ago when we engaged with companies, it was the facilities manager saying their company wanted to do the right thing. Now we have the finance team, the marketing team, all the way up to the chief executive, all saying their company needs to do this,” says Fitzpatrick.

Such teams are comfortable talking to us because, Fitzpatrick explains that “we take an agnostic approach to the technology. We are not saying you need to buy X or Y product. We are a consulting service that can also fund the projects involved.”

Sustainable financing solutions

Once we have identified an energy-saving project, the customer can choose to fund it themselves, he explains adding: “Alternatively, we offer a dedicated €75 million fund from which it can draw to provide the up-front capital required.”

We have delivered projects for more than 300 large businesses across Ireland and the UK, including MSD, Carey Glass, Coral Leisure, the Dublin Airport Authority and Ardagh Glass.

Solar PV is one of the most popular options. Modern solar PV panels last 25 to 30 years. “That means they are not only providing a carbon reduction, but a percentage of their base load can be fixed and guaranteed for the next 25 to 30 years, fixing some of a business’ costs,” says Fitzpatrick.

Typically, solar PV contributes around 30 per cent of a company’s electrical usage. The ability to fix this portion of costs over an extended period gives businesses a welcome break from the worry of rising costs.

Carey Glass shines a light on solar energy

Carey Glass, a 60-year-old family business in Nenagh, Co Tipperary is the largest independent glass manufacturing plant of its kind in Europe, employing more than 750 people across Ireland and the UK.

It manufactures high performance glass solutions for major projects ranging from architectural facades to advanced insulating glass units, laminated, heat treated, digitally printed and ceramic glass.

Viewers of TV’s Great House Revival will have seen its Vista Therm high performance triple glazed windows play a starring role.

But elements of glass manufacturing are highly energy intensive, which is why Carey Glass recently installed a significant solar array on the roof of its plant in Nenagh. One of the largest roof mounted installations in the country, it is the size of a sporting pitch.

ESB's Smart Energy Services delivered the project from start to finish, from planning and grid approval to installation and commissioning. And, as it is an ESB-funded project, the company is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system for the length of the project term.

The solar PVs will generate approximately 2.4GWh of electricity for the Carey Glass site, ensuring up to 13 per cent of the site’s energy requirements come from a renewable source.

“We had looked at installing a solar PV array several times over the years,” says Vicki Carey, energy team lead at Carey Glass.

“Given the large roof space, it was a massive investment at a time when PV panel prices were much higher,” she adds.

The company started working with ESB’s Smart Energy Services in early 2021.

“We met with the team and outlined what projects we had completed inhouse, including installation of LED lighting throughout the factory. We are ISO 50001 accredited and at the time we were developing our energy plan for the coming year,” Carey explains.

Despite the scale of the project, undertaken in conjunction with ESB’s Smart Energy Services, installer Grange Solar, and Carey Glass’ in-house energy team, it was a seamless process, says Carey.

Financial and environmental benefits

It will bring financial as well as environmental benefits to the company for years to come.

“From a forward-budgeting perspective, having 13 per cent of our energy costs hedged for 20 years is a massive comfort factor and will further drive us to implement more energy efficiency projects,” she adds.

Energy savings make the business more commercially sustainable too. “We compete for business across Europe and USA, and Ireland has some of the highest energy prices in Europe. This gives us an extra edge of competitiveness in Europe,” explains Carey Glass energy team co-lead Mark Rushe.

It has been very positively received within the local community and among its employees, he adds. “Climate change is at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” says Rushe. “Though it is not the reason we implemented the changes, it has reflected well on our company to be seen as an energy-efficient company,” he adds.

This blog post originally published in The Irish Times as sponsored content by ESB on 18th October 2023.

Our €75 million Smart Energy Services Fund is available to help large energy users. Talk to us today.