State continues to rely heavily on gas and coal for electricity

Gas Networks Ireland says demand in offices and education settings rose in September

The State continued to rely heavily on gas and coal for its electricity requirements last month, according to the latest data published by Gas Networks Ireland.

Gas demand for offices (18 per cent) and education (16 per cent) rose in September compared to August as people around the country returned to work buildings and schools in line with the lifting of restrictions nationally and the academic year commenced in earnest.

Demand from travel (26 per cent), hospitals (7 per cent), manufacturing (6 per cent) construction (4 per cent) and transport (3 per cent) were also up, while retail (-5 per cent) and food and drink (-4 per cent) fell compared to August.

Residential demand (-4 per cent) also decreased versus August with seasonally mild weather delaying the commencement of the traditional heating season. Despite this, year-to-date residential gas demand remains 5 per cent ahead of the same point in 2020.


While gas demand in most sectors has grown in 2021, overall gas system demand remains 2 per cent down year to date on 2020, with the closure of gas-fired power plants for prolonged unplanned maintenance being a significant contributor.

Gas supplied an average 49 per cent of Ireland’s electricity requirements in September, with wind (21 per cent), coal (17 per cent), oil (2 per cent), peat (2 per cent) and the interconnector with the UK (4 per cent) providing the majority of the balance.

At its peak, gas supplied 70 per cent of Ireland’s electricity during September and 18 per cent at its lowest point. Wind supplied between 1 per cent and 71 per cent, and coal between 6 per cent and 29 per cent – the highest share that coal has reached this year.

Gas supplied 54 per cent of Ireland’s power generation in the third quarter of 2021, with wind supplying 18 per cent, coal 13 per cent and the interconnection with the UK 8 per cent.

The remaining 7 per cent was supplied by a number of sources including oil, peat, solar, pumped storage and biomass.

At its peak in the third quarter gas supplied 82 per cent of power generation, with a low of 18 per cent. Wind supply varied from less than 1 per cent to 71 per cent, with coal ranging between 0 per cent and 29 per cent.

The third quarter of 2021 saw mixed performance across key sectors with some experiencing significant growth in gas usage compared to the same quarter in 2020 while others declined.

Gas demand in the third quarter for transport (+65 per cent), laundry (+24 per cent), retail (+15 per cent), travel (+5 per cent) and residential (1 per cent) all rose year-on-year, while offices (-19 per cent), manufacturing (-14 per cent) and hotels (-10 per cent) fell.

Gas Networks Ireland head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins said the "unseasonably mild conditions have delayed the commencement of the traditional winter heating season and the ongoing maintenance of gas-fired power plants has also reduced demand".

“We welcome the return of the Huntstown gas power plant, which is now back online and will give additional security to our electricity supply and should help to reduce the level of coal currently being used in power generation, reducing overall energy emissions,” he said.

“The recent publication of the carbon budget recommendations shows the significant task that lies ahead as Ireland looks to decarbonise our society. In particular, we know that transport, heating and agriculture will prove particularly challenging to decarbonise.

“Gas Networks Ireland is working to facilitate solutions to decarbonise the gas network, such as hydrogen and biomethane, which can positively impact on the energy solutions for such hard to decarbonise sectors.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter