July Gas Demand Statement
Despite the warmer weather, Ireland’s gas demand in July was up 5% on the previous month and up 10% when compared to July 2021.
In comparison to the same period last year, when public health restrictions were in place, gas demand increased in the air travel¹ (+95%), leisure/sport arenas (+39%), retail (+35%) and hotel (+20%) sectors. While July’s higher temperatures and the peak summer holiday season contributed to a month-on-month decrease in gas demand across most customer sectors – including residential (-39%), offices² (-30%), construction (-27%) and education³ (-20%) – there was a significant increase in gas demand for electricity generation when compared to June.
Gas generated 62% of Ireland’s electricity in July, up 12% on June and down 3% when compared to July last year. Even though the amount of electricity generated by wind energy in July fell by 28% month-on-month to 20%, it was up 52% compared to July 2021. At times during the month, gas powered up to 85% of the country’s electricity generation, never dropping below 24%. Coal contributed 11% in July - more than doubling its contribution in June - peaking at 21%, with a low of less than 1%. Wind peaked at 65% during the month 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% of electricity generation.
Gas Networks Ireland’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said: “July wasn’t a very windy month, so it’s not surprising to see the amount of electricity generated by both gas and coal increase and the amount generated by wind energy fall. “Gas is 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 available, provides a secure and complete energy system for the people of Ireland.
“This is how a complete energy system approach works in practice with wind and gas complementing each other to meet the bulk of Ireland’s electricity demand. The country needs a ‘whole of energy’ approach to the future. We need to stop seeing gas and electricity as separate and look at how to decarbonise the end-to-end energy system, not just individual fuels. “As Ireland’s gas network is one of the safest and most modern in the world, there’s a ready-made solution right under our feet. The gas network can be repurposed to carry decarbonised gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, at relatively minimal cost and disruption, and in turn play a critical role in an integrated gas and electricity system to decarbonise the country’s energy needs.”
While operating and maintaining the network, Gas Networks Ireland is also working on preparing Ireland’s gas network for the transition to renewable energy to help Ireland meet its climate action targets.
“By replacing natural gas with indigenously produced renewable gases, such as biomethane made from farm and food waste, and hydrogen made from renewable electricity, we can significantly reduce emissions in a number of key sectors, while further enhancing Ireland’s energy security and diversity,” Mr Mullins said.
¹ 'Air travel’ refers to airports
² ‘Offices’ refers to large office campuses
³ ‘Education’ refers to large educational campuses.