New data released by the Central Statistics Office shows that gas consumption by power plants in Ireland increased by 33% in February 2023 compared to the same period last year. This was due to lower wind speeds, which led to a drop in electricity being generated by turbines. On the other hand, gas consumption by households decreased by 19% as customers cut back on usage.
The total metered gas consumption during the month came to 4,586 gigawatts, which is an 8% increase from February 2022. However, this is down from the 5,210 gigawatts generated by gas during January when it was a lot colder, leading to a higher heating demand from households.
It is interesting to note that there were six days in February where the maximum daily temperature at Dublin Airport was 12C or higher compared to just one last year. This increase in temperature may have contributed to the lower gas consumption by households.
Dympna Corry, statistician at the CSO, explained that mean daily wind speeds at Dublin Airport during the month “were lower than the corresponding day in February 2022 on 24 of the 28 days”. “The lower wind speeds reduce the amount of electricity that can be generated by wind farms and consequently result in more electricity being generated by power plants,” she said.
On Tuesday, European natural gas prices dropped to their lowest levels since July 2021, continuing a slump seen in recent months as demand remains subdued. This may have implications for the Irish energy market in the coming months.
It is worth noting that Ireland has set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. The country aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 51% by 2030, compared to 2018 levels. In order to achieve this, the government has introduced a range of measures, including subsidies for renewable energy and a carbon tax.
The increase in gas consumption by power plants in February highlights the challenges faced by Ireland in achieving its emissions targets. While gas is a cleaner alternative to coal and oil, it is still a fossil fuel and produces carbon emissions. Therefore, it is important that Ireland continues to invest in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures to reduce its reliance on gas and other fossil fuels.
Overall, the data from the CSO shows that while gas consumption by households has decreased, there is still a significant reliance on gas for electricity generation in Ireland. This highlights the need for continued investment in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy.