There was a marked increase in domestic use of natural gas in 2020, while power plants account for well over half of gas used, in a further indication of the challenge ahead in removing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that residential gas consumption increased by more than 6% in 2020, when the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic kicked in in earnest during the autumn and winter months with restrictions on movement.
Power plants accounted for 56% of total networked gas consumption in 2020, compared with 30% by the non-residential sector and 14% by the residential sector, according to the CSO.
"This pattern was broadly similar in the period from 2011 to 2019. Total consumption in 2020 was 57,953 gigawatt hours, an increase of 0.4% over 2019 consumption, and the highest consumption over the 2011-2020 period," the body said.
The increase in consumption came despite a 2.3% decrease in consumption by power plants, and a 3.1% increase by the non-residential sector, because of the 6.1% increase in homes.
Residential gas consumption increased by 6.1% in 2020https://t.co/jMpjpuY8TS #CSOIreland #Ireland #Environment #Buildings #EnergyRatings #Energy #EnvironmentalSubsidies #EnvironmentalAccounts #NetworkedGas #GasConsumption #Climate pic.twitter.com/36bxx1ducQ— Central Statistics Office Ireland (@CSOIreland) August 10, 2021
As expected, the time of the year was key when it came to consumption of gas in homes.
The January to March quarter has by far the highest consumption, at 44% of the annual total in 2020, the CSO said. July to September accounted for only 9% of total homes consumption in 2020.
However, seasonal variation was less evident in other sectors, the CSO said, with the third quarter of 2020 accounting for 28% of total usage by power plants and for 23% of consumption in the non-residential sector. The non-residential sector includes the likes of school buildings, hospitals, and offices.
Dublin postal districts accounted for 45% of total residential consumption in 2020, followed by Dublin county, which accounted for a further 17%, and Cork at 11%, the CSO said.
Data used by the statistics body covers all customers connected to the natural gas network, including power plants, non-residential, and residential customers.
Three counties (Donegal, Leitrim, and Sligo) had no meter connections and are not connected to the gas network.
The CSO used census figures to estimate around two million households in Ireland of which 1.7 million were occupied. There were around 687,749 residential gas meters in 2020, it said.
There are around 29,000 non-residential customers, it added. Residential meters have increased by 8.7% since 2011 to 687,749 in 2020.