Over the past two weeks, the Irish energy system has witnessed record-breaking events in both natural gas usage and wind energy generation. It underscores the incredible volatility of our energy system as we strive for greater integration of renewable sources.
In November, the last three days of the month saw exceptional levels of gas demand, with the 30th and 28th setting new records for November gas demand, according to Gas Networks Ireland. Just days later, Ireland and Northern Ireland achieved a new peak in wind generation, reaching 4,626 megawatts (MW) on December 6th.
The increase in gas demand during November was largely due to the need to use gas for electricity generation when wind energy was insufficient. During these record-breaking November days, gas accounted for up to 81% of the electricity generated across the country. Gas supplied 65% of the electricity generated, peaking at 81% from November 28th to 30th, while wind energy contributed just 16% on average during the same period.
This heightened gas demand for electricity generation coincided with a drop in temperatures at the end of the month, driving up the demand for gas for heating homes and businesses.
Overall, gas demand in November increased by 12% compared to the mild October and saw a marginal year-on-year increase of 2%.
The November Wind Energy report reveals that wind energy, on average, provided 37% of Ireland's electricity in November 2023, making it the third-highest month for wind energy generation this year. It also states that wind energy consistently supplied a third of Ireland's electricity in the first 11 months of this year.
In terms of electricity pricing, the average wholesale price in November was €122.90 per megawatt-hour (MWh). The total electricity demand in November 2023 was 3,510 gigawatt-hours (GWh), representing a 5% increase compared to November 2022's figure of 3,337 GWh when wind energy generated 1,612 GWh.
These findings are based on EirGrid's SCADA data compiled by MullanGrid and market data provided by ElectroRoute.