The ESB has launched a €75m fund aimed at assisting large firms to reduce their carbon footprints.

The state-owned power provider will offer capital up front for use in infrastructural projects that save energy.

The repayments on the funding can be met from the savings that the ESB claim will be delivered by the investment, making the system balance sheet neutral.

"Our expertise in energy management and the availability of this fund will help businesses deliver their own green ambitions and save money, while reducing carbon emissions to the benefit of all," said Marguerite Sayers, Executive Director, Customer Solutions.

Under the Smart Energy Services project, the ESB estimates that companies could get up to 60% in energy costs over five years.

The customer will be able to use the full amount of the savings achieved for their own purposes, once the initial capital is repaid to the ESB.

More than 300 large firms have already taken part in the Smart Energy Services scheme, including Tesco, Coral Leisure and the daa.

"The measures undertaken as part of this partnership in energy management including lighting upgrades across stores, mean that we've seen significant reductions in our electricity demand, reducing our overall energy consumption by 24% in the last five years," said Geoff Byrne, Chief Operating Officer, Tesco Ireland.

"Another aspect of our ESB Smart Energy Services partnership is that we are continuing to roll out our electric vehicle charging points at 52 store locations across the country, providing customers with convenience-based charging while they shop."

It is hoped that the new fund will deliver carbon savings of up to two million tonnes.

In order to be able to apply, business must have an overall energy bill of in excess of €200,000 per annum.