Ireland’s ESB launches 2030 smart network transformation plan

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Over the next months ESB Networks is to develop a plan to deliver a low carbon electricity system by 2030.

The multi-million euro initiative entitled the ‘National Network, Local Connections Programme’ will draw on input from interested parties with a view to optimising Ireland’s electricity network for customer, community and renewables participation and thus supporting its climate change ambitions.

To this end ESB Networks is engaging with organisations across the energy sector, while also consulting with the communities, consumers and representative bodies that will be crucial to the adoption of the new technologies and services that are coming on stream.

“This programme will create new opportunities for customers, from renewable generators to homes, farms, communities and businesses, as they adopt new technologies, manage their energy costs and drive down their carbon footprint,” explains ESB Networks’ Ellen Diskin, who heads the National Network, Local Connections Programme,.

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“With more renewable generation and more efficient consumption of electricity, and active participation from stakeholders and consumers, the National Network, Local Connections Programme will put in place a smart electricity system that is safe and secure, responsive to new local and regional needs, and make a positive impact in the fight against climate change.”

ESB Networks is intending to issue a series of ten consultations to shape the direction of the programme.

In addition, the first tender call for energy companies to engage with customers is planned for Q4 of 2021 with a view to pilots going live in late 2022. Initially, the pilots are expected to be limited to commercial customers, expanding to domestic customers in subsequent tender calls.

The pilots are expected to run for up to two years, with the full rollout and scaling from 2024 on.

Ireland’s climate action plan envisages a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030 towards a net-zero target by 2050.

Specific actions underway already include phasing out of fossil fuel heating systems and promotion of heat pumps, initiatives to switch to electric transport, support for microgeneration and encouragement of the use of local renewables in residential and community organisation settings.

Ireland’s National Smart Metering Programme is aiming for a complete 2.4 million smart meter replacement by the end of 2024.

The National Network, Local Connections Programme forms part of a €4 billion ($4.6 billion) network investment programme to 2025.

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