In November, the last three days of the month saw exceptional levels of gas demand, with the 30th and the 28th respectively being the highest two November gas demand days ever recorded with gas playing a critical role in electricity supplies in Ireland.
Spike driven by electricity generation
The increase in gas demand during November was primarily due to the need for gas to generate Ireland’s electricity when there was little or no wind energy available. During these record-breaking November days, gas produced up to 81% of the electricity generated across the country. Gas produced 65% of the electricity generated peaking at 81% from November 28th-30th, while wind energy contributed just 16% on average in the same time period.
This increased demand for gas to generate electricity coincided with temperatures plummeting at the end of the month which drove a sharp increase in the demand for gas to heat homes and businesses.
Overall, in November, gas demand increased by 12% month-on-month compared to a mild October and saw a marginal year-on-year increase (+2%).
Demand for gas increased year-on-year in the office1 (+55%) sector, while demand for gas from the construction sector dropped by 30% over the same period.
There were month-on-month increases in gas demand from the office (+68%), retail (+33%) and leisure/sport arenas (+31%) sectors.
November’s overall electricity generation
Overall, in November, a month described as being “mild overall with a cold finish2”, wind energy and gas both generated 41% each of Ireland’s electricity. While their contributions peaked at 81% for gas and 79% for wind energy, gas never dropped below 12%, however at times wind fell away to less than 1%.
Wind energy saw a significant month-on-month increase of electricity generation, increasing nine percentage points on October’s contribution of 32% to 41%. While gas decreased from 44% to 41% over the same period.
Gas Networks Ireland’s Acting Director of Strategy and Regulation, Brian Mullins, said:
“November was an incredible record-breaking month of contrasts which showcased how a complete energy system approach works in practice with wind and gas complementing each other to meet, when combined, 82% of Ireland’s electricity demand.
Storm Debi, the fourth named storm of the season and described as the most intense yet, hit Irish shores mid-November. Providing ample wind, the storm enabled wind energy to generate 59% of the electricity used in that time.
In contrast on the colder crisp days which saw out the month of November, there was extremely low wind levels which meant that gas and the gas network – being the reliable and flexible backbone of the energy system and key to our energy security of supply – generated 65% of Ireland’s electricity. This served as a reminder that even as wind energy continues to increase, Ireland still needs gas to keep the country’s lights on.”
Despite last winter’s historic demand for gas, no disruption to gas supply is expected this winter according to the network operator’s 2023/24 Winter Outlook3.
Gas Networks Ireland’s forecast indicates that there is both enough gas supply sources and enough network capacity to meet the anticipated gas demand projections over the coming winter period, including in the case of a “1-in-50 winter peak day” – an extremely cold day that would only occur once in 50 years.
It is expected that about 18% of the State’s natural gas requirements will be supplied from the Corrib gas field off the coast of Co Mayo during the winter period, October 2023 to March 2024.
Gas supplies from Great Britain (GB) via the Moffat interconnector – which is Ireland’s entry point for imported gas – is forecast to supply almost 82% of overall gas demand this winter. According to National Gas Transmission, the transmission system operator for gas in GB, there is no significant forecasted change to the supply quantities available to GB, and hence to Ireland, for the winter ahead.