Gas demand rises as temperatures fall, but Covid-19 impact weighs

Restrictions on travel and leisure industry hit demand

Gas demand was 6 per cent lower compared to October 2019. Photograph: iStock

Gas demand was 6 per cent lower compared to October 2019. Photograph: iStock

 

Demand for gas in homes and businesses rose in October as temperatures dropped, but still failed to match last year’s levels as ongoing restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus weighed on some sectors.

Residential gas use rose 29 per cent last month compared to September, with demand from businesses up 106 per cent as the colder weather began.

Overall gas demand rose 1 per cent in October, but it was down 6 per cent on the same month last year, as the construction, travel, hotels, education and leisure sector all saw a significant decline.

“We would normally expect a substantial increase in demand as we move from September to October. The increase only came in the domestic heating sector but even this was relatively modest as October was relatively mild,” said Gas Networks Ireland’s head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins. “The impact of Covid-19 continues to affect gas usage, with certain sectors severely affected by Covid-19 showing year on year declines in gas usage. Despite this, overall gas usage generally remains in line with 2019 levels with continued growth in other sectors.”

Year on year, medical device manufacturing saw an increase of 2 per cent, while pharmaceuticals was up 4 per cent, and hospitals and retail rose 5 per cent respectively. Offices saw demand increase by 12 per cent, while transport was up 299 per cent, in part due to the opening of the second public Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station in Cashel.

The total gas demand for power generation also fell, declining 17 per cent month on month and 10 per cent year on year as strong wind conditions in October boosted the level of wind generation. In the year to date, gas demand for power generation is only marginally higher at just under 2 per cent.

“A key area of growth this month was gas for transport and we are delighted to see the new CNG facility opening in partnership with Circle K in Cashel,” Mr Mullins said. “We have had a great response from hauliers who are looking to make the switch to a cleaner fuel option. We expect a number of additional stations to open over the coming months as gas and ultimately renewable gas play an important role in driving down transport emissions.”