December Gas Demand Statement

Gas powers up to meet record electricity demand

Gas demand for power generation was up 8.7% year on year in December according to figures released by Gas Networks Ireland, as the national gas network powered up to meet record electricity demand amidst significant wind fluctuations.

Gas supplied up to 70% of electricity demand at times in December and never dropped below 29%, meeting 47% of total electricity demand for the month. Wind power generated 43% of total monthly electricity demand, while coal generated 7% of electricity in the month.

Christmas Day provided an important illustration of the interconnected roles that gas and wind play in powering the country – gas started the day at c. 67% of the electricity generation mix and fell to a low of 29% approaching midnight with wind swinging from a low of 5% to a high of c. 65% in the same period.

Overall gas demand in December was 11% higher than November and 6% higher than December 2019 figures.

Residential demand continued to increase as winter progressed. However, while gas demand from homes was up 4% from November to December it was down 16% on the same time last year, continuing a constant trend this winter.

The impact of Covid-19 continues to weigh on certain sectors of the economy, with gas demand from Laundry (-44%), Hotel (-42%), Leisure (-36%), Travel (-24%), Retail (-16%) and Construction (-8%) all well down on equivalent trends in December 2019. Encouragingly though, all bar Construction were up on November figures.

As has been the case throughout this exceptional year, some sectors continued to show resilience and even growth.

Gas demand from manufacturing finished the year strongly, up 16% on November and 13.7% on 2019, while demand from health-related customers continued to perform strongly, with Medical Device (+15%) and Pharmaceutical (+5%) production both ahead of December 2019 gas usage.

Demand for gas from the food and beverage industry remained ahead of the December 2019, however as is the annual norm, demand from this sector in the month was substantially lower than in November.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) demand for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) as an alternative to diesel is up 5% month on month and 66% year on year. Further growth is expected in transport in 2021.

Gas Networks Ireland’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said December was a busy month for gas demand.

“While Covid-19 continued to reduce gas demand in some sectors, particularly the leisure and hospitality sectors, overall gas usage was robust in December and up 6% compared to December last year. Higher usage in certain sectors such as power generation more than offset the sectors where gas demand reduced. Gas played a key role in meeting Ireland’s increasing electricity requirements in the run up to the Christmas period, with gas providing up to 70% of power generation at times during December,” Mr Mullins said.