Developer and supplier Airtricity calls for radical action to upgrade grid

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Wind energy developer and supplier Airtricity has threatened to build transmission infrastructure itself unless Ireland's existing grid operator takes immediate action to upgrade the grid. The company called on government for a 20 year energy plan at the official opening last month of Ireland's largest wind farm, at Meentycat in Donegal. The 72 MW wind farm consists of 38 Siemens turbines and is almost three times the size of the largest project in Ireland to date. Airtricity says the EUR 86 million project will help stabilise the voltage in Donegal -- the weakest part of the Irish grid. Airtricity's Eddie O'Connor said Meentycat is a significant milestone for the Irish wind industry, but lack of investment in a proper grid infrastructure "is killing the industry." He called on the government to produce a 20 year national strategy for the generation mix. "This is required today, to set a context and provide a framework to allow for proper planning into the future." The grid must evolve to accommodate wind immediately, O'Connor added. "Talk of needing years to plan is not acceptable." Airtricity had identified several bottlenecks on the grid that require critical attention: Athlone to Shannonbridge; Galway to Clare; Knockearagh to Tralee; Cullenagh to Great Island and the existing Dublin to Drogheda corridor. "If immediate action is not taken and the network built and upgraded, we will be forced to take on the role of AirGrid and we will consider building the infrastructure ourselves," said O'Connor. The company builds its own connections and substations and is in a consortium to build an interconnector between Ireland and the UK.

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