Gas demand up substantially across all sectors this year

Wind provided 32% and coal and peat collectively provided 10% of power generation

Brian Mullins of Gas Networks Ireland. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Brian Mullins of Gas Networks Ireland. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

Gas demand in the first half of 2021 closed substantially up across virtually all sectors of the Irish economy compared to the same period last year, figures from Gas Networks Ireland show.

Gas demand from transport (118 per cent), construction (25 per cent), manufacturing (19 per cent), hospitals (13 per cent) and pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing (8 per cent) were all up year on year, as was residential demand (6 per cent).

Gas also remained the main provider of Ireland’s electricity generation through the first six months of 2021, supplying 46 per cent of the country’s total electricity demand and more than 71 per cent at its peak.

Wind provided 32 per cent, and coal and peat collectively provided 10 per cent of power generation.

With a number of gas-fired power plants offline for planned and unplanned maintenance, gas demand for power generation was down 6 per cent compared to the same period last year and this led to overall gas demand being down 4 per cent year to date compared to 2020.

As expected, gas demand for the second quarter was down on the first quarter of the year as normal seasonal demand patterns took hold and heating demand dropped.

In terms of the month of June, overall gas demand rose sharply, up 16 per cent compared to May.

Gas demand for electricity generation rose by 17 per cent in the same period, with gas providing 53 per cent of the country’s total electricity for the month and up to 71 per cent at its peak. Wind provided 25 per cent and coal and peat collectively provided 11 per cent.

While gas demand remained steady across most industries, gas usage in laundry (66 per cent) saw a sharp increase following the re-opening of the hotel and accommodation sector.

Conversely, temperature dependent sectors such as schools (-61 per cent), hospitals (-36 per cent) and domestic heating (-16 per cent) all saw substantial reductions in demand month on month as thermostats were turned down for the summer months.

This reduction is normal for the time of year and, despite the reductions, gas demand from these temperature sensitive sectors were substantially higher than in the same month last year, with residential demand up 23 per cent on the same month last year.

The final gas from the decommissioned Kinsale Area Gas Fields also entered the national network in June after 43 years of service.

“Gas demand in the first six months of 2021 shows the continuing importance of the gas network in delivering reliable energy for homes and businesses across Ireland,” said Gas Networks Ireland head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins.

“As our economy began to progressively emerge from Covid-19 restrictions, we saw the demand for gas recover and rise across key sectors, supporting companies to begin commercial activity again.

“Even in the face of outages at a number of gas-fired power plants, gas continues to provide an important foundation for electricity generation and back-up to renewable energy when required.”