ESB: Becoming a carbon neutral generator by 2035

Business in the Community Ireland

Company Description:
Watch a video about ESB’s long term, sustainable commitment to CR through their commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2035

ESB is a leading Irish company in the energy utility sector, employing almost 7,000 people. It is 95% owned by the Government of Ireland with the remaining shares held by an employee share ownership trust. In 2008, ESB had a turnover of €3,488 million and a profit after tax of €273 million. ESB operates through four business units: ESB Power Generation; ESB Customer Supply & Group Services; ESB Networks and ESB International.

Business Issue:
Today, energy and the environment are at the heart of public debate. Reducing our carbon footprint, whilst maintaining affordable and secure forms of energy, represents the biggest challenge our industry has faced. As Ireland’s leading energy provider, ESB wants to promote a clean and sustainable environment and help our country meet its climate change targets.

Solution Applied:
In 2008 we launched our Strategic Framework to 2020. This sets out our commitment to invest €22 billion in renewable energy and our determination to halve our carbon emissions over the next twelve years, with a view to becoming a carbon neutral generator by 2035.

We are also developing a smart grid and smart metering for the management of energy consumption and a network system to pave the way for electric transport.

By matching our external environmental commitments with an internal sustainability programme – the company has committed to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% by 2012 in all its direct activities – we have been able to engage staff throughout the organisation in a very meaningful debate about the importance of local and personal action in addressing climate change issues.

There are now over 120 sustainability champions throughout ESB working with staff in all business and sections on creating more energy efficient workplaces, carbon-friendly travel planning and improving the fabric of our buildings. This creates a direct link between the staff member and the overall company strategy and has assisted greatly in embedding the core strategic framework values into the workforce.
Company Benefits:
By investing in sustainable development and by renewing our generation portfolio with the most environmentally friendly and efficient technology, we are ensuring that ESB can retain its position as Ireland’s leading energy company into the future.

Stakeholder Benefits:
The commitments we are making in our strategic framework will support Ireland’s ability to achieve the national target of a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. By working with our 2 million customers to educate them about using energy efficiently, they get real value for money as well as helping the environment.

According to Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (speaking on April 3, 2009), “Again we see the ESB stepping up to the plate to secure Ireland’s future and I commend them for their vision and work in this regard.
Challenges:
The development of such an ambitious and far-reaching programme requires long term commitment from every level within the organisation. In spite of recent seismic changes in the global financial system, our determination remains to establish ESB as a world class renewables company.

Tip:
Engage staff, from all sections of the organization, about the importance of personal action in addressing climate change issues. For us, this has worked well to embed our core strategic framework values into the fabric of the organization. ESB is happy to report that our interim target of reducing our power station emissions in Ireland by 30% by 2012 has been achieved. We are also well on the way to achieving a similar target for our internal carbon footprint.

Since 2008 ESB has joined with other electricity companies in Europe in promising to decarbonise electricity generation by 2050 – effectively extending the ESB commitment to our full generation portfolio in Ireland and abroad. This is possible in large part due to our commitment to renewable energy and to wind in particular. We already have an operational wind portfolio of 237MW. A further 96MW is under construction and a potential additional 800MW is in the pipe-line. In Ireland alone, we expect renewables to account for one third of our generation capacity by 2020.
Departments Involved:
Sustainability Unit.

Solution Champion:
John Campion, Director, Sustainability, john.campion@esb.ie

See also the company website on: www.esb.ie

Year
2009