Managing Director's Introduction
Welcome to Gas Networks Ireland’s 2020 sustainability report, ‘Sustainability in Action’. This is our third sustainability report, aligned to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard. Our sustainability strategy has three pillars, Environment, Social and Economic, and is aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This report outlines our progress in implementing the principles of sustainable development across all aspects of our operations.
Gas Networks Ireland operates Ireland’s €2.7bn, 14,617km national gas network, which is considered one of the safest and most modern gas networks in the world. Over 706,000 Irish homes and businesses trust Ireland’s gas network to provide affordable and reliable energy to meet their heating and cooking needs.
A vital national asset, the gas network is the cornerstone of Ireland’s energy system, securely supplying more than 31% of Ireland’s total energy, including 40% of all heating and 52% of the country’s electricity generation. By replacing natural gas with renewable gases and complementing intermittent renewable electricity, Gas Networks Ireland is supporting Ireland’s journey to a cleaner energy future.
We are ever mindful of our sustainability responsibilities and aim to contribute to the protection of the environment while supporting the social and economic development of the communities we operate in. We are proud of the fact that we are one of only 40 companies in Ireland to hold the Business Working Responsibly (BWR) mark and are committed to ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do and help Ireland to reduce its carbon emissions.
2020 was an unprecedented year dominated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our crisis management procedures were stood up and we invoked the Retail Gas Market Incident Management Plan (RGMIM) in March 2020. We immediately enabled large scale working from home and accelerated our strategy on employee wellbeing and engagement. Our frontline staff continued to carry out essential works, including the prioritisation of healthcare projects. We proactively engaged with gas shippers and customers and responded to multiple stakeholder requests. We facilitated an increase in emergency credit for Pay As You Go (PAYG) customers and implemented the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) supply suspension scheme.
While COVID-19 presented our business with significant challenges, our comprehensive response has ensured continuity of service throughout the year for all customers of the network, which is testament to our robust business continuity plans and the dedication and hard work of our staff and service providers.
As a leading utility company, sustainability is defined by our role in delivering an affordable and clean energy future for the people of Ireland, through the decarbonisation of our gas network and the reduction of emissions across all sectors of the Irish economy. To further our commitment to sustainability, we established a dedicated Sustainability Team to embed sustainable work practices across the business and to support the development and delivery of our sustainability strategy across our Environment, Social and Economic pillars.
In 2020, we advanced our journey to a decarbonised gas network, with approval from Cork County Council for Ireland’s second renewable gas injection facility in Mitchelstown. We also progressed the rollout of our CNG refueling station network with the completion of stations in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Clonshaugh, Co. Dublin, and Ballysimon Road, Co. Limerick.
We were incredibly proud to win both the Sustainable Energy Achievement Award and the Green Large Organisation of the Year Award at the 2020 Green Awards, while also being shortlisted for the Green Business of the Year Award, recognising our sustainability focus in all aspects of running our business. This was the first time Gas Networks Ireland has won these awards, considered by many as Ireland’s leading environmental event for businesses.
For the first time, we independently verified and published our carbon emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Platform (CDP), which represents the most comprehensive collection of self-reported environmental performance data globally. In addition to reporting carbon emissions, the CDP assesses the performance of each company against sustainability and climate action best practices. We were proud to achieve a B- rating for taking coordinated action on climate issues. This rating is higher than the European and global averages, and higher than the oil and gas storage and transportation sectors’ average of a C.
We continued to operate, maintain and develop the gas network safely, economically and efficiently. We delivered €109 million of critical investment infrastructure and supported the Irish economy with a dividend payment of €71 million to the Exchequer.
Through our Aurora Telecom division, Ireland's leading backhaul dark fibre service provider, we completed the final section of our national ring route linking Cork, Waterford and Dublin. In addition, we completed construction of 105km of fibre in Mayo and Galway to connect to a new subsea transatlantic fibre cable.
We also achieved integrated recertification of five management systems to ISO standards from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI); a first of its kind, not only for Gas Networks Ireland but also a first for both Ireland and the NSAI.
Socially, we supported the health and wellbeing of our employees in the workplace and positively impacted the communities in which we operate. We were delighted to win the 'Health and Safety Initiative of the Year' award for our 'HazCon' app and exceptional commitment to all-round health and safety at the Networks Awards 2020, while also championing social inclusion initiatives in communities across Ireland.
I wish to acknowledge the ongoing hard work and dedication of the Gas Networks Ireland team in continuing to deliver on our sustainability initiatives throughout 2020. We believe that our ‘Sustainability in Action’ strategy will continue to improve our business in a sustainable and responsible way for the people of Ireland, particularly now as we navigate new ways of working following the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Welcome to our 2020 sustainability report. I hope you enjoy learning more about how we continue to focus on operating sustainably and ensuring Ireland’s vital national gas network is ready to play its role in a cleaner energy future.
Managing Director, Gas Networks Ireland