The ESB had an operating profit of €676 million (m) for the first six months of 2023, an increase of over €300m on the same period in 2022 – before taking exceptional items into account. Revenue at the electricity supplier jumped by €1.2bn to €4.9bn.

ESB said the profit for the first six months was mostly driven by the performance of its UK trading and generation business.

The Electric Ireland business had lower profitability in the first half of 2023, according to the report published on Tuesday.

Dividents to Irish State

The period also saw the payment of €317m in dividends to the Irish State, based on profits made last year. The report did not make any estimate for the size of dividend likely this year.

Under the structure of the ESB Group, profits from the generation division cannot be used to offset costs in the Irish domestic supply business, meaning the group cannot directly reduce costs to consumers, even as it makes considerable profits.

On the outlook for energy prices, the report highlighted the already-announced 10% price reduction for ESB’s over 1 million domestic customers in Ireland. There were, however, no direct promises of further cuts.

Paul Stapleton, ESB’s chief financial officer, said that “it is crucial that ESB continues to earn significant profits to allow us to scale up our investment in critical energy infrastructure”.

Lower energy prices

On the outlook for electricity prices, he noted that global energy markets are much less volatile this year than they were in the same period in 2022, and if the downward trend in wholesale prices continues, “customers should progressively see the benefit reflected in lower energy prices”.

The ESB had €779m in capital expenditure during the period, with two-thirds of that on electricity network upgrades.

There was €224m spent on electricity generation projects, including investment in renewable generation and battery storage projects.

The group said that its net debt was €6bn and that it had funded 90% of its borrowings with fixed-rate debt, insulating the group from rapidly rising interest rates.

The report restated the ESB’s ambition to be net zero on carbon by 2040.