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Electricity Supply Board opens Ireland’s largest battery storage facility at Dublin energy hub  

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The Republic of Ireland’s environment minister Eamon Ryan was on hand last week as a 75MW/150MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) was officially inaugurated.

Green Party leader Ryan, who serves as Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications as well as Minister for Transport, attended the event in Poolbeg, Dublin, on 7 February.

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The system is Ireland’s largest of its kind to date and went operational in November 2023 ahead of last week’s official opening and photo opportunity with representatives of utility company Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and battery system integrator Fluence.  

It is located at Poolbeg Energy Hub, where ESB – around 95% owned by the Irish state with the remaining stake held by its employees – is planning to deploy a combination of clean energy technologies, including offshore wind, hydrogen, and battery storage, over the coming decade.

“Energy storage like this major battery plant at the ESB’s flagship site in Poolbeg will be a core part of Ireland’s new renewable energy transition and will play a key role in balancing our new, homegrown power supply,” Eamon Ryan said.

The minister added that “no electricity system can operate without backup”, but that traditionally this has been provided in Ireland – which shares a grid with its neighbours in Northern Ireland – by fossil fuel generation.

“However, into the future, we can store increasing amounts of wind and solar power in energy storage projects and use it to support the system instead of relying on dirty and expensive coal or gas,” Ryan said.

The fast-responding asset will store energy generated by renewable energy and output it to help balance the grid when required.

€300 million BESS portfolio buildout for ESB

The new 2-hour duration lithium-ion (Li-ion) asset is part of a BESS portfolio into which ESB is investing around €300 million (US$323.5 million).

Fluence is serving as technology provider and integrator to all of those, in partnership with mechanical and electrical contractor Kirby Group, and High Voltage and Medium Voltage engineering services group Powercomm, both Irish companies.

The first projects were announced in early 2021 for sites in Inchicore, County (Co) Dublin (30MW/60MWh) and Aghada, Co Cork (19MW/38MWh), as reported by our sister site Solar Power Portal. The 150MWh Poolbeg BESS was announced later that year along with another 30MW/60MWh asset in South Wall, also in Co Dublin, bringing the development portfolio to a total 308MWh at the time.  

The project in Aghada was the first to go online, in the summer of 2022. ESB said last week that the remainder of the projects are expected to go into service this year.

“Today marks another important milestone for ESB as we launch our latest fast-acting grid-scale battery unit that will support grid stability and help to deliver more renewables on Ireland’s electricity system,” ESB executive director for generation and trading Jim Dollard said.

The first-ever grid-scale battery project in the country went online in 2020, followed by rapid development of many more, largely driven by the DS3 ancillary services market of transmission operator EirGrid. By early 2021, ESB’s projects were among a development pipeline that already stood at 2.5GW.

More currently, according to our colleagues at Solar Media Market Research, which produces the Republic of Ireland Battery Storage Project Database Report, there are now 545MW and 609MWh of utility-scale BESS projects already operational in the Republic of Ireland. The development pipeline stands at 6.3GW, while 4.7GW of projects in planning have been approved.

Ireland is aiming to reach 70% renewable electricity by 2030 and as a Member State of the European Union (EU), submitted a draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) in December last year aimed at bringing it in line with EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets. ESB itself is targeting net zero emissions from its activities by 2040.

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