Tackling connection of next wave of wind projects

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Ireland's energy regulator has launched a consultation process to decide the approach to connecting the next wave of renewables projects to the network. Known as Gate 3, it continues the group processing approach developed over two previous rounds of connection offers to cope with a flood of connection applications from wind generators. Some 5800 MW of projects -- mostly wind -- are stuck in the queue for connection offers. This capacity alone exceeds the 4400 MW of renewables needed to meet the government's 2020 target for 33% of electricity from renewables. Moreover, projects already operating or those due to have received firm connection offers by next month total 2800 MW. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) argues that given the volume of potential wind generation, Gate 3 will have to be limited in size to allow the system operators (SOs) to operate the system safely. It proposes three options for selecting applicants to be included in Gate 3. The fairest and simplest is date order of completed applications, but this does not allow for the optimal development of the network, maintains the CER. The second is a combination of date order and system optimisation; while the third would use the Grid Development Strategy (GDS) approach proposed by Ireland's SOs. This would order connection offers depending on the speed with which required reinforcements to the network could be built. The SOs argue this would allow the country to meet its targets more speedily and optimise network development. The consultation closes January 31.

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