Gas demand fell in January, but gas remains the biggest source of Ireland’s electricity generation

Gas powers up to 80% of electricity generation

A milder than average January saw Ireland’s gas demand fall by 8% compared to December and decrease by 7% when compared to a colder January 2022.

Gas demand fell in the manufacturing sector (-14%) month-on-month, while the mild weather contributed to a decrease in gas demand from the offices1 (-16%) and residential (-11%) sectors year-on-year. Demand from the construction sector increased month-on-month (+26%) and there was a year-on-year increase of 14% in the retail, laundry and air travel2 sectors.

Gas remained the primary source of electricity generation in the first month of 2023, as it was for nine months of 2022. Gas generated 42% of Ireland’s electricity demand in January, down 7% on both the previous month and on the same period last year.

At times, gas powered electricity peaked at 80% and it never fell below 12%.

Wind energy set a new record, providing 40% of electricity generation in January - an increase of 21% both year-on-year and month-on-month.

At its peak, wind generated up to 76% of Ireland’s electricity during January. However, as is the nature of intermittent renewable energy sources, there were also times in the month when the wind supply fell away and provided as little as 1% of the country’s electricity requirements. 

Coal generated 8% of January’s electricity, falling significantly on December’s contribution (-33%) and dropping by 43% compared to January last year.

Commenting on the gas demand data for January, Gas Networks Ireland’s Acting Director of Strategy and Regulation Brian Mullins said:

“During January, there were days when there was little or no wind, which meant that weather dependant renewable energy was not available to generate electricity and meet the country’s energy demand.

“This is why gas continues to be the ideal partner for weather dependant renewables. Being able to harness wind energy when it is available and back it up with the flexibility and reliability of gas when it’s not, provides a secure and complete energy system for the people of Ireland.

“Our vision is to continue being at the heart of Ireland’s energy future and we are working to repurpose Ireland’s world-class network of gas pipelines to transport renewable gases, such as biomethane and green hydrogen, for Ireland’s low carbon future. There are plans to repurpose over 60%3 of the EU’s existing gas network to transport hydrogen, and we are very well positioned in Ireland to do this,” Mr Mullins added.

1 ‘Offices’ refers to large office campuses
2 ‘Air travel’ refers to airports
3 European Hydrogen Backbone, April 2022