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Power: Wind generation exceeded natural gas as the primary energy source for electricity in the first three months of the year.

Power: Wind generation exceeded natural gas as the primary energy source for electricity in the first three months of the year.

Power: Wind generation exceeded natural gas as the primary energy source for electricity in the first three months of the year.

Strong energy demand throughout April and May from agri-foods, IT, pharmaceuticals and bio-sciences points to the sectors of the economy likely to be least affected by the Covid-19 shutdown.

In contrast, recent weeks witnessed a dramatic fall in gas demand in the construction sector in areas such as cement production, with demand down up to 90pc compared with the period before national restrictions were implemented.

The figures are from an analysis by Gas Networks Ireland and helped colour in the picture of Ireland's energy use and economic activity during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Gas was critical to power generation demand throughout April and May, the analysis found, as wind generation dipped due to mild and settled weather.

Gas provided as much as 78pc of Ireland's power generation for the first two weeks of May, according to data released by the country's electricity system operator, Eirgrid.

In April, gas accounted for approximately 60pc of Ireland's power generation.

In the earlier first three months of the year wind generation exceeded natural gas as the primary energy source for electricity - for the first time. From January through March, wind generated 43.8pc of net supply versus 41.8pc for gas.

Since then, gas output has stepped up as wind levels dropped substantially.

Gas Networks Ireland's head of regulatory affairs, Brian Mullins, said wind and gas are highly compatible.

"The current conditions again illustrate that gas is an ideal partner for wind as gas power plants can be powered up and down quickly, responding to the variability of wind on the system," he said.

"This is particularly relevant as we approach the summer months where wind generation is typically lower than that experienced in winter months."

The analysis by Gas Networks Ireland shows that in several sectors, gas usage remains in line with previous years despite the lockdown - with strong demand from agri-food and beverage, IT and communications, pharma and bio-sciences. Demand in the tourism sector is down around 60pc, with leisure, office and education seeing significant reductions in energy demand.

Despite big numbers working from home, domestic gas demand is broadly in line with normal demand expectations, reflecting recent warm weather.

Irish Independent