Warm weather in May sees gas demand drop 7%

Warm weather during May contributed to a 7% decline in overall gas demand during the month, with the education1 (-58%), residential (-50%) and laundry (-22%) sectors all falling month-on-month.

Unsurprisingly, as the peak summer holiday season got underway, gas demand from the air travel sector increased (+38%) when compared to April. There were also month-on-month increases in gas demand from the leisure/sport arenas (+54%), construction (+45%) and retail (+40%) sectors. 

Compared to May last year, when public health restrictions were in place, there were even more significant increases in the air travel (+172%), retail (130%), hotel (+127%) and leisure/sport arenas (+114%) sectors.

Gas generated 53% of Ireland’s electricity in May – up 1% compared to April. Wind energy had one of its strongest Mays on record – generating 33% of all electricity in the State.

Wind peaked at 69% 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.

At times during the month, gas powered nearly 90% of the country’s electricity, peaking at 88% and never dropping below 24%, while coal peaked at 13%, with a low of 2%.

May saw a month-on-month decrease in the share of coal for power generation due to an increase in the share of gas contribution to power generation. Coal contributed 5% during the month.

Gas was also the primary source of electricity generation over the May Bank Holiday weekend, providing 68% on the Sunday and 81% on the Tuesday.

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

“While overall demand for gas fell in May, gas once again proved to be the backbone of Ireland’s energy system, generating over half of Ireland’s electricity needs in the month. This continues the trend so far this year, as gas has been the primary source for electricity generation in four out of the first five months of 2022.

“As we move further into the summer, we do not envisage any disruption to gas supply in the immediate future. Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is anticipated that restrictions on the importation of Russian gas to the EU will not significantly affect supply to Ireland.

“Ireland’s gas requirements will be met by indigenous supply from the Corrib gas field and via the interconnection with the UK, which is largely sourced from UK indigenous sources and Norway.”

“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.”

In the context of further developing the renewable gas sector in Ireland, Gas Networks Ireland representatives are working in partnership with 30 other energy transmission operators to plan for a new European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) network.

The planned hydrogen backbone network will largely be based on repurposing existing natural gas infrastructure. It is envisaged that by 2040, for example, Ireland could be connected to the new network via a repurposed subsea interconnector pipeline to the future UK hydrogen network in Scotland.

Hydrogen is a carbon free gas that can be made from renewable electricity through a process known as electrolysis, and stored until needed, making it an attractive option to decarbonise the Irish and EU energy systems. The development of hydrogen networks is an example of how greater integration between Ireland’s gas and electricity networks can support a low carbon economy.

1 ’Education’ refers to large educational campuses.