Irish utility company ESB should sell several of its power stations over the next five years in order to promote competition in the energy sector, a recent report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) says.

A new report from the institute, Aspects of Irish Energy Policy, suggests the ESB should sell up to 1 GW of capacity up to 2010 in order to substantially erode its dominant position in the generation sector by early in the next decade.

The report considers how Irish energy policy can best deliver a competitive and secure energy supply. Demand will continue to rise quite strongly well into the next decade says the report, and major investment in new generation and transmission is needed. At the same time, Ireland is likely to increase its dependence on gas to supply its energy needs over the next decade and the government should consider strengthening the crucial gas transmission network.

An all-island electricity market is also likely to confer significant benefits on consumers, reducing the long-term costs, but should prompt a significant closure of old inefficient plant and replacement by new plant.