Irish businesses missing out on lower energy costs and carbon emissions reductions

20% energy reduction possible for larger companies with CHP

Irish businesses are missing out on lower energy costs and the opportunity to significantly reduce carbon emissions, this is according to a presentation by Gas Networks Ireland to delegates at the Combined Heat and Power Conference in Dublin on Thursday. 

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation currently accounts for just 7% of Irish electricity output in comparison to other European economies such as Denmark where the figure is closer to 40%.

Combined Heat and Power Conference, also known as "co-generation", is a way of simultaneously producing electricity and heat from the same fuel source, normally natural gas.  CHP technology can dramatically increase energy efficiency and significantly reduce fuel costs.  Energy use can fall by as much as 20% while energy costs can also fall by up to 30%.  The use of CHP technologies in 2017 avoided 423 ktCO2 emissions in Ireland when compared with separate electricity and heat production. 

Gas fuelled CHP installations also emit low levels of NoX and SoX emissions meaning that they are better for air quality and all our health. Increasingly, air quality is being highlighted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a serious issue in Irish cities and towns.

CHP can make a major contribution to the decarbonisation of Irish Industry, delivering a step change in how our businesses are powered. CHP plants can offer a gateway to renewable gas, allowing companies to power their business on a virtually carbon-neutral basis. Renewable gas and other innovative technologies form part of Gas Networks Ireland’s ‘Vision 2050’ - a vision of a net zero carbon gas network for Ireland and the potential to reduce Irish carbon emissions by a third.

Fran McFadden, Gas Networks Ireland, speaking at the conference said: “CHP is an established technology, deployed throughout Europe delivering reduced costs and emissions for businesses each day.  Ireland has been slow to adopt this technology and the result is potentially avoidable higher energy costs for businesses.”

“For large energy users, CHP is ‘low hanging fruit’ in terms of addressing climate change. Heating has been a problem area in terms of transition to low carbon options. CHP offers immediate and lasting benefits to businesses and to the State. Installing a CHP plant also opens the door to using renewable gas, delivering even greater emissions savings in the years ahead.”

“At the conference today we heard from businesses that are already using CHP and their results are impressive, including testament from a hotel general manager whose CHP unit paid for itself in under three years and is now saving the hotel €70k in energy costs each year.”

Presenters at the Combined Heat and Power Conference yesterday included James Watson, Director General of Eurogas in Belgium, who spoke about why gas is a vital part of the clean energy future; and Ed O’Donoghue of Electricity Exchange who outlined how demand management can see companies using a CHP plant as a significant revenue generator for their business. 

Additionally, representatives from a number of organisations presented on the success and benefits of having a CHP unit, including Cormac Healey, Dublin City Council; Cormac Reynolds, University College; William Keeling and Ruud Brouwer, Keelings; and Garret Marrinan, The Gibson Hotel.

To find out why Combined Heat and Power might be the option for your business or to speak to someone at Gas Networks Ireland please visit:

To find out how Vision 2050 sets a clear pathway to a net carbon zero gas system by the year 2050 visit:  

More on the CHP conference:


More about CHP
A CHP solution also offers greater security of energy supply to the business as they are now in control of their own energy supply.  CHP also offers greater security of future energy pricing as the impact of carbon pricing becomes a greater factor in energy costs.

The process of using a CHP plant is relatively straightforward and is based on making use of heat which is normally wasted in the process of generating electricity. Typically, up to 60% of the input energy is lost when electricity is generated [1].   With a CHP plant, electricity is generated on-site using natural gas to drive a turbine or engine connected to an alternator. The alternator generated electricity while the heat from the exhaust gases generated by the turbine or engine is harvested to provide steam or hot water for the production processes.  SEAI figures illustrate that up to 99% of this heat is captured and used as useful heat [1].  This energy is essentially free of charge and displaces energy the company would otherwise generate separately at additional cost.

Suitable for a wide range of applications, CHP is particularly appropriate as an energy solution where there is a high demand for both electricity and steam, heat or hot water.  Hotels and leisure facilities, hospitals, agri-food, pharmaceutical and dairy processing are some of the biggest users of CHP technology in Ireland. 

Installation of a natural gas CHP facility opens the door to switching seamlessly to renewable gas. Businesses may be eligible for SEAI funding for use of renewable gas if they are moving from using fossil fuel heating.  Further information is available from