Wind scoops AER contracts totalling 330 MW

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Onshore wind has scooped 90% of contracts awarded by the Irish government under the latest round of its Alternative Energy Requirement program (AER VI) for support of renewable energy. A total 48 contracts were awarded in July with a combined capacity of 365 MW. Onshore wind accounts for 280 MW, offshore wind for 50 MW, with the remainder consisting of biomass and small scale hydro. In addition, natural resources minister Dermot Ahern is to seek EU permission to award contracts for an extra 140 MW of wind and biomass -- and he intends to set a reserve list of projects to replace any contracted capacity that fails to go ahead. The contracts, which went to the lowest bids, guarantee sale of output to utility ESB for 15 years. Ahern wants to see the projects, which already have planning consent, built as quickly as possible. He claims that, together with new capacity contracted under AER V, the amount of renewable energy in Ireland should rise to almost 10% of electricity generation by 2005. But given the country's track record of poor completion rates under the AER program, Ahern may well have to pull something more substantial out of the hat if Ireland is to meet its EU target of 13.2% of electricity from renewables by 2010. He says he will start a public consultation on renewable energy from the end of July on how best to

drive the green agenda up to 2010. The emphasis will be on deciding the market mechanism to replace the AER and to set fresh targets to 2010 and beyond.

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