Gas demand in January reached the highest monthly level in over a decade and the third highest ever, according to figures released by Gas Networks Ireland.
Total gas demand grew 7 per cent month on month. This was 12 per cent higher than the same month last year, prior to the beginning of the Covid-19 restrictions.
The only time gas demand was higher in Ireland was in 2010, when the country experienced some of the coldest weather on record. A number of days at the beginning of January this year saw demand close to record levels.
Gas for power generation was up 9 per cent year on year, with natural gas delivering about 48 per cent of Ireland’s electricity. Wind supplied about 32 per cent and coal provided about 11 per cent.
Residential gas demand was up 8 per cent on December and 10 per cent on January 2020. Gas Networks Ireland recently reported that 2020 saw over 7,000 new residential connections to the gas network.
Health related demand was also up strongly with pharmaceutical manufacturing up 11 per cent on January, while medical device manufacturing and hospitals were both up 17 per cent.
Food and beverage usage was up 5 per cent on the previous month and 3 per cent on the previous year. Manufacturing was also up 6 per cent year-on-year.
There were tentative signs of companies preparing for the return of construction with demand in this sector up 32 per cent on December and back in line with demand prior to the initial Covid-19 lockdown.
Gas Networks Ireland head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins said colder weather in January would have seen usage beat record highs.
“January was a very busy month for Ireland’s gas network, with demand reaching levels not seen in a decade,” he said.
“Overall energy consumption was high; electricity, industrial processes and heating were all generating significant demand. Had we seen more pronounced cold weather in January we almost certainly would have seen a new record for total system peak demand.”