ESB to grow renewable energy project pipeline

The ESB has said it is working to develop a pipeline of projects that will enable it to generate "at least" 40% of its electricity from renewable or zero carbon sources by 2030.

The energy utility is looking at projects across a range of technologies including battery, storage, solar, onshore and offshore wind, waste energy, biomass and gas-fired plants and aims to deliver these over the next ten years.

The ESB spent around €250m on renewable energy generation projects last year, including starting development on two onshore wind farms here and a 12.5% stake in the Galloper offshore wind farm off the south-east coast of England. In January, it said it would co-develop two planned offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea.

Last month, it was announced that the ESB and State-owned forestry company Coillte were in talks aimed at forming a renewable energy joint-venture solely focused on onshore wind farm projects.

Both companies said they hope to reach agreement on the deal - which, essentially, would see the ESB acquiring a 50% stake of Coillte's renewable energy division - by the end of May.

In reporting latest annual results, the ESB said it remains engaged in bilateral discussions with Coillte, but if successful the joint venture would deliver 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030.

The ESB generated pre-exceptional operating profits of €455m last year and a post-tax profit of €60m. Despite taking a non-cash impairment charge of €140m, linked to generation assets, the company said its underlying financial performance was "satisfactory".

The utility declared a dividend to the State of €35m for 2018. While down from €60m in 2017, it brings to €1.4bn the total paid in the last decade.

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