Gas demand was up year on year across most segments of the economy in May, according to Gas Networks Ireland.

It said gas demand is picking up in the sectors hardest hit during the pandemic, as the country begins to reopen.

Last month, demand was up 42% in the hotel sector, 31% in construction and 146% in the leisure sector.

"The increase in gas demand across virtually every sector of the economy is a strong sign that Ireland is beginning to open up and our economy is beginning to function more normally," said Brian Mullins, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Gas Networks Ireland.

"We would hope to see this trend continue in the coming months," he added.

Gas demand for power generation in Ireland fell by 27% compared to May 2020, with a number of gas fired power plants on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.

Despite this, gas still provided the largest share of generation at 43%, down 10% on April’s sixth month high.

Wind provided 27%, up 3% month on month, while coal’s share rose to 11%, up 2% and imported electricity through the interconnector to Great Britain provided 9%, up 2.2%.

"The scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of a number of power plants has caused a significant reduction in gas demand for power generation," said Mr Mullins.

"While gas remains the largest contributor to the electricity generation mix, the dip in availability has seen coal re-emerge in terms of supply," he added.

Residential demand continued to be strong as the relatively cold weather persisted in May, according to Gas Networks Ireland.

Mean temperatures in May were almost two degrees lower than in 2020, leading to an 18% increase in residential gas demand on the same month last year.