In 2020 we connected 8,091 new commercial and residential customers to the gas network and contracted 635GWh of new natural gas demand. With safety as a priority for our assets and operations, we invested €112m in our gas and telecoms network infrastructure with a strong focus on driving growth and increasing new connections to the network, developing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a transportation fuel and delivering programmes to improve the safety and reliability of the network.
In 2020 two publicly accessible, fast-fill CNG stations were constructed at Clonshaugh in Dublin and Ballysimon Road in Limerick. The country’s second publicly accessible, fast-fill CNG station, opened at Circle K’s forecourt in Cashel as part of the developing national network aimed at providing clean fuel to the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) sector. Strategically located at Junction 8 off the M8 (Dublin – Cork) motorway, the state-of-the-art station has the capacity to fill 50 HGV’s per day, with each fill taking no more than five minutes. This new station allows hauliers and fleet operators in the region to begin the journey to carbon neutral transport by switching their fuel from diesel to CNG today and ultimately transitioning to networked renewable gas in the future.
In May 2020, Ireland’s only purpose-built injection facility in Cush, Co. Kildare was declared an entry point and joined Corrib as one of the two indigenous gas sources on Ireland’s gas network (following the closure of the Kinsale gas field in July 2020). Locally produced renewable gas entered the gas network with Tesco and Diageo purchasing renewable gas made from their own food and drink waste to power their operations.
Through our telecoms business, Aurora Telecom, we further extended the ultra-high fibre network in Ireland in 2020. This included a 300km segment of its national network from Cork to Dublin via Waterford and Carlow bringing the network to over 1,200km, the only high fibre connection of its kind for these regions. The network extends across 15 counties, in a ring formation, and interconnects the cities of Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, and urban centres along this route including, Athlone, Mullingar, Shannon, Mallow, Midleton, Dungarvan and Carlow. Because of the economic and social disruption caused by COVID-19, people and organisations across the country significantly rely on technology for information, for social contact, as well as for trading, working and educating from home. The continued rollout of the network is also important beyond COVID-19 as the shift to working from home, enabled by improved telecommunications, will reduce the mobilization of people and consequently reduce harmful transport emissions.