Gas demand for power generation was up 8.7 per cent year-on-year in December, according to figures released by Gas Networks Ireland, as the national gas network powered up to meet record electricity demand.
Gas supplied up to 70 per cent of electricity demand at times in December and never dropped below 29 per cent, meeting 47 per cent of total electricity demand for the month.
Wind power generated 43 per cent of total monthly electricity demand, while coal generated 7 per cent of electricity in the month.
Overall gas demand in December was 11 per cent higher than November and 6 per cent higher than December 2019 figures.
Residential demand continued to increase as winter progressed. However, while gas demand from homes was up 4 per cent from November to December it was down 16 per cent on the same time last year, continuing a constant trend this winter.
The impact of Covid-19 continued to weigh on certain sectors of the economy, with gas demand from laundry (-44 per cent), hotel (-42 per cent), leisure (-36 per cent), travel (-24 per cent), retail (-16 per cent) and construction (-8 per cent) all well down on equivalent trends in December 2019. However, all bar construction were up on November figures.
As has been the case throughout the year, some sectors continued to show resilience and even growth.
Gas demand from manufacturing finished the year strongly, up 16 per cent on November and 13.7 per cent on 2019, while demand from health-related customers continued to perform strongly, with medical device (+15 per cent) and pharmaceutical (+5 per cent) production both ahead of December 2019 gas usage.
Demand for gas from the food and beverage industry remained ahead of the December 2019. However, as is the annual norm, demand from this sector in the month was substantially lower than in November.
Compressed natural gas demand for heavy goods vehicles as an alternative to diesel was up 5 per cent month on month and 66 per cent year on year. Further growth is expected in transport in 2021.
Gas Networks Ireland's head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins said December was a busy month for gas demand.
“While Covid-19 continued to reduce gas demand in some sectors, particularly the leisure and hospitality sectors, overall gas usage was robust in December and up 6 per cent compared to December last year,” he said.
“Higher usage in certain sectors such as power generation more than offset the sectors where gas demand reduced.
“Gas played a key role in meeting Ireland’s increasing electricity requirements in the run up to the Christmas period, with gas providing up to 70 per cent of power generation at times during December.”