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Powering the potential for a brighter future in the energy sector

Design workshops


Design workshops

Customer interviews


Customer interviews

Workshop participants


Workshop participants

Research subjects


Research subjects

X_Site at Dogpatch Labs

Since 2016 ESB has had a home within Dogpatch Labs: X_Site. 


Driven by disruption in the energy sector, ESB established its innovation hub and new business incubator in the Dublin Docklands. Here, teams explore ideas in tandem with customers, innovative corporate partners and the wider startup ecosystem with the goal of achieving its Net Zero by 2040 pledge.

Solving Challenges Like Startups Do

X_Site’s flagship programme, X_Potential, allows ESB people to identify solutions to sustainability challenges and bring them to market like a start-up would. 


Each year teams work under the guidance of entrepreneurs and mentors for four months, and finally pitch them to ESB’s Innovation Council to earn funding. Ideas should both reduce carbon and be commercially viable.

Net-Zero Heroes

The X_Potential programme has proven popular among staff, allowing them to work on meaningful challenges that will help ESB achieve its key goals of becoming Net Zero by 2040, and enabling its customers and partners to do so, too. ESB has big ambitions to help Ireland drastically reduce its carbon footprint, including:

  • Increasing the use of renewable energy
  • Electrifying transport fleets
  • Decarbonising data centres
  • Enabling eMobility and car sharing
  • Decarbonising rural communities
  • Designing buildings that automatically respond to energy availability
  • Fostering a sustainable bio-economy in rural Ireland

Catapult Program

This programme, facilitated in partnership with Framlabs and Dogpatch Labs, set out to design validation experiments for existing propositions.

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ESB Mini-Incubator

Over 2 days graduates from Irish universities visited Dogpatch for a host of creative workshops to to help apply commercial reality to real business opportunities in energy tech.

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Energy Tech Meetups

Bringing together experts, startups and investors from the energy sector to Dogpatch Labs to discuss new innovations in energy tech.

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Innovation Academy

Generation & Supply business units were introduced to the Design Thinking framework, developing new ideas to solve company or customers’ problems.

Project Updates

Many exciting projects have emerged from X_Potential and X_Site, and are currently at different stages of development. Here is a brief selection:


Consumers struggle to know where to start when retrofitting their homes, from choosing contractors to navigating financing and grants. Meanwhile Ireland and ESB have ambitious climate-action targets to meet by 2030. 


The Energise team created a one-stop-shop that issues initial quotes on the spot, and then arranges an engineer to scope the project fully, selects the best contractors, manages the grant process, and project-manages the work. The Energise project was integrated into Customer Solutions, leading to the launch of Electric Ireland Superhomes.


From Survey to SuperHome Video.


Inspecting overhead lines by foot patrol and recording this data is crucial to ESB’s business – but also very labour-intensive. 


The Dragonfly team made use of drones to capture images of overhead lines as well as artificial intelligence to recognise assets, classify any dangers or faults, update the information in real-time, and allow maintenance teams to prioritise, repair and also predict issues before they happen.


City commuters spend hours sitting in their cars in traffic, making up 40% of CO2 emissions, when they could be using quicker, more sustainable modes of transport. 


The Hub-X team are piloting eBike (electric bike) stations at 14 locations around the periphery of Dublin so commuters can sail by the traffic on that last stretch instead of using cars or public transport. Hub-X launches in summer 2022 and is co-funded by Interreg, a programme to develop and deliver better policy and services across themes such as Smarter Europe, Greener Europe and More Connected Europe.

Sub-Sea Habitat Cable Repair

Repairing underwater cables involves hoisting them up from the seabed onto a boat. This is expensive, can damage the cable, and takes a long time, meaning customers are without power for longer than necessary.


The Habitat team developed a chamber that enables deep-sea divers/engineers to carry out repair and maintenance in situ, underwater. This solution is now being trialled at the Aran Islands.


Aran Islands Sub Sea Cable Repair Video.

Powering Energy Innovation

The X_Site team is always looking for innovative ideas, especially in the areas of sustainability, whether it pertains to travelling, working, farming or simply living your day-to-day life in a greener way. If you have a great business idea that the team could help move forward, please get in touch:


Geraldine Moloney, Head of New Business Incubator, ESB


Nicky Griffin, Senior Innovation Programme Manager, Dogpatch Labs

"Our partnership with Dogpatch Labs gives us an ideal platform for ESB to connect with an Irish grassroots tech community and helps drive the required culture change to transform ESB into an innovation energy leader."

Fergal Egan, Energy Innovation Manager, ESB

Customer Centricity

A core objective of X_Site is to position the customer at the centre of ESB’s innovation cycle. The X_Site team has been applying “customer centric” techniques in the evaluation and development of new service and business opportunities.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a customer focused problem-solving methodology. X_Site has led a number of Applied Design Thinking Workshops for different parts of ESB.


These workshops are designed to address real business challenges facing the company and a number of simple techniques are followed to get workshop participants (ESB staff) to adopt and simulate the persona of the customer, evaluate the problem/opportunity from this customer’s perspective and then to explore options for enhancing this customer’s experience over time.

Ethnographic Research

This technique essentially immerses the researcher in the centre of the customers’ lives, so that the researcher can fully understand the challenges faced by them and discover insights into new products or services that could provide real meaningful value to the customer.


X_Site employed the services of a professional ethnographic researcher as part of the exploration stage of the Electric Water Heating project. The learnings from this customer focused research have helped X_Site refine this customer value proposition

User Observation & Interviews

Ethnographic research typically requires identification and pre-agreement with those customers who will be the subject
of the analysis. This can take time to organise. A simpler and faster approach is User Observation & Interviews.


X_Site has started using these techniques to observe how customers use services in-situ and then through informal interviews it has identified the motivations that drive customer behaviour and choice. Using cycles of observations/interviews with different customers, the team is able to narrow its focus on the customer problem to be solved or on the elements of a service or product that the customer needs.

Ecosystem Engagement

Ignition: Mini-Incubator for First-Year Graduates

Since 2018 Ignition has helped people on ESB’s graduate development programme tackle Net Zero challenges by teaching innovative approaches such as Design Thinking and Lean Start-Up.


In 2021, the challenges focused on several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, exploring topics like how to match customer demand with grid supply considering the big increases in EVs, heat pumps, etc, and how to incentivise a change in customer behaviour. 

Innov8rs: Business Graduates to the Fore

Innov8rs launches ESB’s Commercial Graduates on a fast-track to career success by exploring creativity and creative collaboration. Using structured rotations, it offers excellent development opportunities as well as professional accreditation. Business graduates are split into several teams, acting as start-ups to work on ideas that can contribute to ESB’s Brighter Future plan to reach Net Zero by 2040. The programme is underpinned by mentoring from senior ESB staff, the IMI and other external partners.

Innovation Academy: Focusing on the Four Cs

ESB’s Innovation Academy is designed to build competency in customer-centric innovation across the group to support delivery of its Net Zero strategy. This programme is run in conjunction with UCD’s own Innovation Academy and is delivered through a highly experiential, practical and action-based learning process built around creativity, collaboration, curiosity and communication. The programme is designed to build innovation capability in the business, improve collaboration internally and externally with customers, and to provide a new and different approach to addressing business challenges.