Gas demand in third quarter of 2020 7% higher than same period in 2019

Overall gas demand in the third quarter of 2020 “increased marginally” by 7% compared to the same period in 2019, according to figures released today (Friday, October 30) by Gas Networks Ireland.

In the year to date, overall gas demand is up by 1%, despite the impacts of Covid-19, as residential gas demand and gas for power generation remained strong through Q3.

Heating demand (residential, schools) grew by 7% between August and September as weather turned cooler, leading to a total year-on-year residential demand increase of 11% for Q3 and a marginal increase year to date.

Power generation

The power generation sector is the largest user on the gas network, typically representing over 50% of gas usage at any given point, according to Gas Networks Ireland.

In the third quarter, 61.7% of Ireland’s power generation was sourced from natural gas. The “reliance on gas for power generation” peaked at 90% on occasions during the third quarter, with a minimum of 38% of electricity generation coming from gas-fired power plants.

This complemented other generation forms, particularly wind, which at times represented over 70% of generation in high wind conditions. From a gas network perspective, gas usage for power generation in Q3 was up 10% year-on-year, driving a 2% increase this year to date.

A year-to-date comparison with 2019 shows that most sectors are at or close to the same level of demand as in 2019.

Sectors

On a sector-by-sector basis, gas demand from pharmaceuticals (7%), retail (7%), hotel (5%) and office (7%) are all ahead of this time last year.

In contrast, some sectors particularly affected by Covid-19 saw notable decreases in gas demand, including: leisure (-28%); waste management (-9%); manufacturing (-11%); and construction (-3%).

Gas for transport is beginning to register significant growth with a 21% month-on-month growth between August to September and growth of 259% in the year to date.

Gas Networks Ireland’s head of regulatory affairs, Brian Mullins, said that demand for power generation was “particularly strong” with gas and wind “now clearly established pillars of Ireland’s electricity system”.

“Compressed gas for transport is beginning to gain traction with a number of public forecourts now in operation,” he added.

“With additional stations due to open in the coming months, we forecast this will be an area of rapid growth for gas demand in the coming years.”