Gas remained the backbone of Ireland’s energy mix in 2021, generating 46% of Ireland’s electricity; 43% on an all-island basis.
With gas-fired generation limited by greater than anticipated maintenance across a number of power plants, gas’s share of the Irish electricity mix fell three percentages points when compared to 2020, while overall demand decreased by 4.7%, with the continued impact of Covid-19 restrictions and relatively milder weather conditions also playing a role.
However, gas remained the primary source of electricity in 2021, with wind’s share of electricity generation falling from 35% in 2020 to 29% in 2021, and coal generation’s climbing from 5% in 2020 to 11% in 2021.
At their peak, gas and wind powered up to 82% and 77% of Ireland’s electricity needs respectively, but the intermittent nature of wind saw it drop lower than 1% at times, while the contribution of gas didn’t drop below 10% during 2021. Coal provided as much as 29%.
With the opening of two more Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelling stations in 2021, demand for gas as an alternative to diesel in the commercial transport sector was up 78% year-on-year with further growth expected in this market in 2022.
There were also notable increases in demand in sectors such as retail (+18%), construction (+16%), laundry (+13%), leisure (+13%) and air travel (+10%), as Covid-19 restrictions eased during the year.
Gas Networks Ireland’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said:
“During 2021, gas and wind generation continued to dominate Ireland’s sources of electricity, collectively delivering 77% of Ireland’s electricity supplies, or 72% on an all-island basis. The responsiveness, flexibility and availability of gas makes it the ideal partner for renewables like wind.
“The amount of electricity generated by coal rose by 6% in 2021, compensating for maintenance at gas-fired power plants and less wind generation. As natural gas produces 40% less CO2 than coal, replacing coal-fired power plants with gas-fired power plants would deliver significant and immediate emissions reductions.
“Having the reliability of ‘always on’ gas to be the constant back up supporting intermittent renewables, means that when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, our homes, businesses and vital services can depend on gas to help keep the lights on.”