Gas demand up 2% in first quarter with big increase for transport

Demand from laundry, hotels, offices, and retail all down significantly due to Covid-19

Total gas demand for the first quarter of 2021 closed up 2 per cent on the same quarter in 2020, with increased electricity demand powering much of this increase, according to new figures from Gas Networks Ireland.

Gas provided 44.6 per cent of power generation in the quarter, up nearly 5 per cent on the same period in 2020. At the same time, wind contribution fell 7.1 per cent year on year to 39.1 per cent, with increased capacity mitigated by reduced wind volumes in March.

Gas demand from transport (+104 per cent), data centres (+32 per cent), waste management (+18 per cent) manufacturing (+10 per cent), medical devices (+10 per cent) and pharmaceuticals (+8 per cent), were also higher compared 2020.

Gas demand from laundry (-45 per cent), hotels (-23 per cent), offices (-19 per cent), retail (-12 per cent) and construction (-5 per cent) were lower.


Residential gas demand was down 3 per cent year on year in the quarter, principally due to milder weather conditions in February and March.

Gas Networks Ireland head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins said gas demand in quarter one was "strong" with electricity demand continuing to climb.

“Comparative year on year figures for the quarter show the challenges facing energy planners, with wind’s share of generation down more than 7 per cent, despite an increasing number of wind farms on the electricity system,” he said.

“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.”

Separate figures for the month of March show gas demand for power generation grew strongly, rebounding from February. Year on year gas demand for power generation was up 8 per cent with gas providing an average of 47.4 per cent of power generation in March.

Wind’s share dropped 15 per cent from its 12 month-high in February to 34.8 per cent. Coal provided 5.7 per cent and peat 1.9 per cent of Ireland’s electricity supplies.

At its peak, gas provided 75.3 per cent of power generation in March and 18.4 per cent at its lowest. Wind had a similar peak of 72.9 per cent and dropped as low as 0.4 per cent 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 per cent in comparison to the same month in 2020, with waste management (+68 per cent), data centres (+11 per cent) pharmaceuticals (+10 per cent), manufacturing (+6 per cent), education (+6 per cent) and medical devices (+6 per cent) among the sectors where gas demand rose year on year.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter