March and Q1 Gas Demand Statement

March Data

Gas demand for power generation grew strongly in March, rebounding from February.  Year on year gas demand for power generation was up 8% with gas providing an average of 47.4% of power generation in March.

Wind’s share dropped 15% from its 12 month-high in February to 34.8%. Coal provided 5.7% and peat 1.9% of Ireland’s electricity supplies. At its peak, gas provided 75.3% of power generation in March and 18.4% at its lowest. Wind had a similar peak of 72.9% and dropped as low as 0.4% of generation at times.

The rise in demand for power generation balanced out a reduction in broader demand, with average gas demand in March broadly in line with February. Overall, total gas demand in March was up 1% in comparison to the same month in 2020, with waste management (+68%), data centres (+11%) pharmaceuticals (+10%), manufacturing (+6%), education (+6%) and medical devices (+6%) among the sectors where gas demand rose year on year.

Compressed natural gas (CNG) demand from the transport industry continued its strong climb, with average daily CNG demand up 11% month on month and up 113% year on year. Year on year, demand from the office (-31%), construction (-18%), retail (-17%) and hotel (-12%) sectors fell in March. Average daily residential gas demand was down 4% month on month, with increased customer numbers offset by milder than usual weather.

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

“Gas again highlighted its critical role in Ireland’s energy mix, meeting an 8% increase in demand from February to March as the availability of wind to generate electricity fell significantly. Conditions for wind generation in March were quite varied with gas meeting up to 75% of the electricity generation requirements at times during March.

We continue to see the effects of Covid-19 on certain sectors in the economy where gas demand continues to remain below normal levels, but this has been offset by gas demand growth in other sectors.

“The important potential of gas in transport cannot be overstated. Another 11% monthly increase in average gas demand is great sign for the decarbonisation of the transport sector indicating that more and more fleet operators are making the sustainable transition from diesel to cleaner, affordable compressed natural gas, or CNG, vehicles.”

Quarterly Data

Total gas demand for the first quarter of 2021 closed up 2% on the same quarter in 2020, with increased electricity demand powering much of this increase. Gas provided 44.6% of power generation in Q1 2021, up nearly 5% on Q1 2020, while wind’s contribution fell 7.1% year on year to 39.1%, with increased capacity mitigated by reduced wind volumes in March. 

Gas demand from transport (+104%), data centres (+32%), waste management (+18%) manufacturing (+10%), medical devices (+10%) and pharmaceuticals (+8%), was also higher in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020. Gas demand from laundry (-45%), hotels (-23%), offices (-19%), retail (-12%) and construction (-5%) was lower in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020.

Residential gas demand was down 3% year on year in Q1, principally due to milder weather conditions in February and March. 

Mr Mullins said:

“Gas demand in quarter one was strong, with the main driver of growth being power generation. Electricity demand continues to climb and gas is playing a critical role in meeting supply. Comparative year on year figures for the quarter show the challenges facing energy planners, with wind’s share of generation down more than 7%, despite an increasing number of wind farms on the electricity system.

“Some key sectors continue to show signs of recovery and with more sectors of the economy hopefully due to re-open in the second and third quarter, we are likely to see a continued increase in gas demand from many of these sectors throughout 2021.”