Warm weather leads to decline in gas usage during May

Education, residential and laundry sectors all fell significantly month on month, according to Gas Networks Ireland

Warm weather during May contributed to a 7 per cent decline in overall gas demand during the month, with the education, residential and laundry sectors all falling month on month, according to Gas Networks Ireland.

Education was down 58 per cent, while residential was down 50 per cent and laundry fell 22 per cent.

As the peak summer holiday season got under way, gas demand from the air travel sector increased (+38 per cent) when compared with April.

There were also month-on-month increases in gas demand from the leisure/sport arenas (+54 per cent), construction (+45 per cent) and retail (+40 per cent) sectors.

Compared with May last year, when public-health restrictions were in place, there were even more significant increases in the air travel (+172 per cent), retail (130 per cent), hotel (+127 per cent) and leisure/sport arenas (+114 per cent) sectors.

Gas generated 53 per cent of Ireland’s electricity in May – up 1 per cent compared with April. Wind energy had one of its strongest Mays on record – generating 33 per cent of all electricity in the State.

Wind peaked at 69 per cent but given the variable nature of weather-dependent renewable-energy sources, there were also times in the month when the wind supply dropped almost completely and contributed less than 1 per cent of electricity generation.

At times during the month, gas-powered generation contributed nearly 90 per cent of the country’s electricity, peaking at 88 per cent and never dropping below 24 per cent, while coal peaked at 13 per cent, with a low of 2 per cent.

May saw a month-on-month decrease in the share of coal for power generation due to an increase in the share of gas contribution to power generation. Coal contributed 5 per cent during the month.

Gas was also the primary source of electricity generation over the May bank-holiday weekend, providing 68 per cent on the Sunday and 81 per cent on the Tuesday.

Gas Networks Ireland head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins said: “While overall demand for gas fell in May, gas once again proved to be the backbone of Ireland’s energy system, generating over half of Ireland’s electricity needs in the month.

“This continues the trend so far this year, as gas has been the primary source for electricity generation in four out of the first five months of 2022.

“As we move further into the summer, we do not envisage any disruption to gas supply in the immediate future. Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is anticipated that restrictions on the importation of Russian gas to the EU will not significantly affect supply to Ireland.

“Ireland’s gas requirements will be met by indigenous supply from the Corrib gas field and via the interconnection with the UK, which is largely sourced from UK indigenous sources and Norway.”

“While operating and maintaining the network, Gas Networks Ireland is also working on preparing Ireland’s gas network for the transition to renewable energy to help Ireland meet its climate action targets.

“By replacing natural gas with indigenously-produced renewable gases, such as biomethane made from farm and food waste and hydrogen made from renewable electricity, we can significantly reduce emissions in a number of key sectors, while further enhancing Ireland’s energy security and diversity.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter