Irish utility ESB has pledged to halve its carbon emissions within twelve years and has earmarked EUR22 billion of funds to achieve its goal.

The capital investment programme, described as “unprecendented” by the company, will be split between renewable energy and the company’s electricity networks, establishing it as a world class renewables company. It is aiming to be carbon net-zero by 2035.

Fifty per cent of ESB’s proposed expenditure will be geared towards investments in renewable energy, with EUR4 billion directly invested in renewable energy projects and EUR6.5 billion spent facilitating renewables through smart metering and smart networks.

The remaining EUR11 billion will be invested in its networks to ensure continued efficient delivery of the renewable energy and facilitate the development of up to 6000 MW of wind energy.

By 2020, ESB will be delivering one-third of its electricity from renewable generation. This will include over 1400 MW of wind generation, in addition to wave, tidal and biomass.

The company’s Strategic Framework to 2020 will also address the challenges it will face as Ireland prepares for competition in the retail market and a single British-Irish electricity market.

“ESB is now entering a new period of particular challenge that we embrace with enthusiasm and vigour,” said ESB CEO Padraig McManus. “This robust plan will deliver tangible and sustainable results for the economy as we face global challenges in a coherent and managed way. It positions us as a leading energy company in Europe.”

In March, ESB announced that it intended to invest £3million in ‘Seagen’ manufacturer and developer Marine Current Turbines.

In addition, ESB’s retail subsidiary, ESB Independent Energy has signed a five year Power Purchase Agreement to buy all of the electricity output from the SeaGen tidal facility being installed at Strangford Narrows which will be sold as part of its green energy offering to its customers. ESB will be one of the first utilities in the world to provide tidal energy to its customers.

As well as the investment from ESB International, Marine Current Turbines has secured additional investment from existing shareholders including EDF Energy, BankInvest and Triodos Bank. This money gives further support to the SeaGen project and will also aid the company’s future project developments.

ESBI executive director Michael McNicholas said: “Investing in new renewable technologies is an important part of our strategy. Partnering with MCT is a critical element of our company’s continuing commitment to generating electricity from renewable energy sources”.

Martin Wright, managing director of MCT: “This new backing from Ireland’s ESB plus the continuing support of our existing shareholders underlines the commercial potential of tidal power. The investment and ESB’s agreement to buy the power from SeaGen, coming just before it is installed, recognises our engineering achievements in developing a world-leading technology that we hope will eventually make a real contribution to the energy needs of the UK, the all-Ireland energy market and beyond.”