Staycations drive tourism recovery with gas demand up 57% in hotels

Gas demand from hospitality, leisure and supporting industries rose by more than 50% in July according to figures released today by Gas Networks Ireland, with gas demand from hotels up 57%.

The reopening of hospitality and leisure venues following the Covid-19 lockdown and demand for staycations drove sector gas demand back to near normal levels for this time of year, just one per cent below 2019.  This is a strong indicator of a return to normal activity levels in this sector.

Laundry demand, which is heavily tied to the hotel and tourism industry, grew by 77% during the month, as hotels nationwide began to resume towards full operations.

Overall gas demand rose by 4.1% in July compared to June as more elements of the economy continued to recover, however remains 3.7% down on the same time last year.

Gas provided the majority of Ireland’s power generation needs in July, averaging 58% for the month and peaking at 80%. This is ahead of H1 figures which saw gas provide 50% of all power generation.  In the same half year, wind provided 39%. Year on year though, gas demand in July for power generation was down 6% due to a number of factors.

Demand from large businesses was up 4.1% on July 2019 levels, following a significant decline during the lockdown.  Almost all sectors of the economy have recovered to normal gas demand levels for the time of year. Demand from the food and beverage industry remains strong as it did throughout the lockdown, with July demand up 3.2% year on year. Demand from retail customers is also now ahead of 2019 levels. Demand from the construction sector rose 26% from June’s figures, but remains down 40% on July 2019. 

Residential gas demand in July increased substantially year on year, up by over 20%.  Weather was a contributing factor to this, with more homes turning on heating in the month. 

Gas Networks Ireland’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said gas demand is now close to where the network operators would expect it to be in a normal year. 

“Some sectors are returning to the year on year growth we saw in Q1, while others continue to see an element of the fall-out from Covid-19,” Mr Mullins said. “The increase in energy demand reflects the Irish economy beginning to reopen. Energy demand is an important indicator of economic activity and this is a positive signal for our economy

“In power generation, gas and wind continue to complement each other and meet Ireland’s electricity needs. Together with wind and other renewable energy sources, natural and renewable gas will play an increasingly important role in providing security as we decarbonise.”  

The Kinsale Gas Fields were decommissioned in July after 40 years of service and more than double the original production estimate. The closure of Kinsale leaves Corrib (natural gas) and Cush (renewable gas) as the two indigenous gas sources on the network. 

The Covid 19 Supply Suspension Scheme closed on 31 July.  More than 2,200 small and medium businesses availed of the temporary suspension in network charges, saving between €150 and 4,500.