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    French Gas Demand Drops in 2018: Update

Summary

But industrial demand is growing and new capacity has also had a positive effect.

by: William Powell

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French Gas Demand Drops in 2018: Update

(Updates with power sector data, in third paragraph)

France used 5% less gas last year than in 2017 owing to milder weather and less demand from the power sector; but industry used more gas, with GRTGaz announcing throughput of 442 TWh for 2018. 

The demand for gas from industrial customers continued to grow for the fifth consecutive year (+2% in 2018 and +4.4% between 2014 and 2018), GRTGaz said January 25, without putting a figure on the power sector reduction.

Gas demand for combustion and combined-cycle gas-fired power plants fell from 55 TWh in 2017 to 35 TWh in 2018, GRTGaz told NGW in an email January 28. This was due to: better availability of nuclear power plants in 2018 compared with 2017; more hydro generation as the drought of 2017 ended; and an increase of renewable generation capacity and better availability of renewable power production owing to more favourable conditions.

Gross demand for public distribution fell by 2% in 2018 but remained stable after correcting for weather. Gas accounts for 37% of industrial energy demand and last year energy-intensive industrial and chemicals sites continued to convert oil/coal plants to gas, such as glass, sugar and petrochemicals manufacturers. This created almost 2.5 TWh of new demand; and conversions since 2012 have prevented 2.2mn metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2018.

With the widening of capacity from the north, industrial consumers in what had been the southern gas hub region paid no more than those with access to Norwegian and other gas flows in the northern hub, it said. This allowed an average price decrease of around €1.4 ($1.6) - €1.9/MWh, an annualised gain of nearly €80mn.

The merger of the two hubs has also made the market more attractive to traders, with an additional 8% shipper customers since its creation November 1.

The investments made in the single trading area have also helped strengthen the country’s security of supply, since 42% of additional capacity is now available for gas transmission between the north and south.

There has also been a "very real move" towards biomethane and the industrial deployment of renewable gas is continuing with 76 sites injecting biomethane into the gas networks at the end of 2018 to 714 GWh (+75% compared to 2017), and 661 new projects in the pipeline.

This development reflects a real countrywide movement in favour of this renewable energy, which provides concrete solutions with respect to energy policy, agricultural policy, territorial development, waste recycling and the circular economy. After the initial announcements related to the multi-year energy programme (PPE), the methanisation sector is keen to see clarification of the uncertainties related to the injection volume targets, the purchase price and the conditions for launching calls for tender, GRTGaz said.

Germany saw a much larger drop in gas demand, year on year, according to analysis published January 24 by Ageb.