Irish gas demand rose by 3% in July compared to June but was 7% lower than the same month in 2020, new figures from Gas Networks Ireland show today.
Milder weather and the continued temporary closure of a number of gas-fired power plants were the largest factors in the annual drop.
Gas Networks Ireland noted that the weather was a major factor in the electricity generation mix, with wind falling sharply and generating just 11.8% of Ireland's electricity in July - and even fell to less than 1% at times.
Gas provided 56% of the country’s electricity, which would have been higher but for the closure of gas-fired power plants for planned and unplanned maintenance.
As a result, coal generation remained high as it provided 12% of the country's electricity while the interconnection with the UK, including Northern Ireland, provided nearly 16%.
At its peak, gas provided 73% of electricity supply in July, while wind peaked at 53% and coal at 25%.
Year to date gas demand is stable compared to last year, the company added.
Gas Networks Ireland's Head of Regulatory Affairs, Brian Mullins, said the lack of availability of a number of combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants shows the important role that gas plays in maintaining the balance between real time and long-term energy security and facilitating the development of increased (but intermittent) renewable generation sources.
"In a month where wind supply was even lower than normal for July, coal generation was once again high. As we transition to a net-zero carbon energy system, Ireland needs to have sufficient gas generation capacity to ensure that we can meet our energy requirements using the cleanest and most efficient energy mix," Mr Mullins said.
He also said the publication of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report this month highlights the challenge faced in terms of addressing climate change and the urgency with which we must act.
"Moving away from fossil fuel to renewable alternatives, such as biomethane and hydrogen, is a key priority for our business and for the people of Ireland," he stated.
"With the development of our Hydrogen Innovation Centre in Dublin, we are working to ensure that when hydrogen becomes available at scale in Ireland, we can safely transport it through our €2.7 billion, 14,617km network," he added.