December 2021 Gas Demand Statement

Second highest month for wind generated electricity in 2021

Gas powered more than half of the island of Ireland’s electricity demand on St Stephen’s Day, but it was wind that closed the year on a high, providing 64% of the electricity demand on a windy New Year’s Eve.

The big finish led wind to its second highest monthly contribution in 2021 behind February, meeting 39% of the total electricity demand in December, while gas provided 34% and coal 14%.

A windy month, which included Storm Barra, December was the third month in 2021 where wind surpassed gas as the primary source of electricity generation, peaking at 75%.

However, as is the nature of intermittent renewable energy sources, there were also times throughout December when the wind supply fell away and provided as little as 2% of electricity generation requirements. Gas peaked at 66% with a low of 10%, while coal peaked at 27% with a low of 4%.

Overall, December gas demand rose 2% compared to November but closed 8% below December 2020, with above average temperatures leading to a 25% decrease in residential demand compared to the same period last year.

With retail fully open ahead of Christmas, monthly gas demand from the sector was up 42% on December 2020, while its Q4 2021 gas demand closed up 125% on Q3 2021.

Gas demand from air travel was also up 10% year on year, with the reopening of Cork Airport in November driving a 972% quarterly increase from Q3 to Q4.

The education (+216%), office (+208%) and hospital (+103%) sectors also recorded notable quarterly increases in gas demand.

The holiday period led to decreases in gas demand from the construction (-24%) and manufacturing (-2%) sectors from November to December, while public health guidelines contributed to a 24% decrease from the food and beverage sector during the same period.

Gas Networks Ireland’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said:

“December was a strong month for wind, providing up to 75% of electricity generation, but at times falling to less than 2%. Overall, wind energy met 39% of the total electricity demand for the month across the island of Ireland, the second highest month in 2021.

“The variability of all fuel types in the electricity generation mix, particularly wind and solar, reiterates the importance of having a flexible and reliable gas supply. The partnership of wind and gas remains crucial for our electricity system.”