Gas powered 57% of Ireland’s electricity in May
The critical role of gas in Ireland’s energy mix came to the fore again in May, reliably generating well over half the country’s electricity, as the contribution from wind generation fell by 38% month-on-month.
Gas generated 57% of Ireland’s electricity in May, up 21% on April (47%) and up 7.5% (53%) compared to the same period last year. In a calm month with little wind, gas provided a much needed back up to compensate for the fall off in wind energy generation.
The strong role of gas in the overall energy mix in May, means that gas has been the highest contributor to Ireland’s electricity generating system for the seventh month in a row.
Gas Network Ireland’s Acting Director of Strategy and Regulation, Brian Mullins said:
“It’s not surprising as we move into early Summer, to see gas playing an even greater role in meeting Ireland’s energy needs. The period from April until September tends to be the months of highest gas demand for electricity generation, as wind levels typically fall off at this time. At 57%, gas generation had the highest share of the overall electricity supply mix last month than it has had since August last year.
“The experience during May demonstrates that when the wind doesn’t blow, Ireland’s gas network continues to be the reliable and flexible backbone of the energy system and key to our energy security of supply.”
Wind energy generated 23% of Ireland’s electricity in May - a decrease of 38% on the previous month and falling by almost a third when compared to May 2022.
Wind peaked at 73% at times in May but given the variable nature of weather dependent renewable energy sources, there were also times in the month when the wind supply dropped almost completely and contributed less than 1%.
At times during the month, gas powered almost 90% of the country’s electricity, peaking at 87% and never dropping below 19%, while coal peaked at 7%, with a low of 2%.
“At any given time in May, gas was generating a minimum of almost one fifth of the country’s electricity,” Mr Mullins said.
“In fact, the contribution of gas to Ireland’s electricity generation sector has not fallen below 12% at any point during 2023.
“In the last week of May (25th – 31st), when temperatures increased and the wind didn’t really blow, gas’s contribution to electricity generation never fell below 37%,” Mr Mullins added.
Overall, gas demand remained the same in May as it was in April, while gas demand from a number of sectors - air travel1 (-64%), education2 (-45%), office complexes3 (-31%) and leisure/sport arenas (-29%) – were all down month-on-month.
In comparison to overall gas consumption in May 2022, there was a slight decrease year-on-year (2%), with more significant drops from the retail (-74%), air travel1 (-70%), leisure/sport arenas (-54%), hotel (-47%) and education2 (-23%), sectors year-on-year.
Demand for CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has increased by 12% month-on-month and by 19% year-on-year from a modest base. Made by compressing natural gas down to less than 1% of its volume, CNG is a more environmentally friendly fuel than petrol or diesel and provides the Irish haulage industry with a cleaner alternative fuel option.