Irish moratorium on grid connection

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Ireland's energy regulator has extended his moratorium on grid connections of new wind plant to the end of March. Regulator Tom Reeves says he reluctantly agreed to continue the embargo after consulting the industry and taking independent advice.

Reeves first agreed to a month's halt to all new grid connection offers for wind projects in December at the request of system operator ESB National Grid. ESB says the high level of new wind capacity seeking connections threatens system security.

Reeves intends using the three months to resolve outstanding grid related issues identified during his consultation. Among a number of actions to be taken, he wants to see acceleration of work on development of a grid code for wind; a survey of current grid connection offers to assess when and how they will affect the system; a program and timetable for modelling the impact of greater penetration of wind on the transmission system; and a working group set up containing the transmission and distribution system operators, government agency Sustainable Energy Ireland and the Irish Wind Energy Association to monitor progress on these issues.

The wind industry is dismayed by the moratorium. Tommy Cooke from Irish wind farmers co-operative Meitheal na Gaoithe claims the type of small scale dispersed developments proposed by his members has only a low impact on the national grid and in places can even strengthen the grid system. He is calling on Dermot Ahern, government minister with responsibility for infrastructure, to intervene "and put an end to this discussion on spurious technical issues that other countries have solved many years ago."

Cooke also questions the legality of the pre-emptory action by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). He says it represents a failure to implement the EU's directive on renewable energy, which he call, "a serious issue that cannot be ignored." EU policy requires, says Cooke, requires the provision of "necessary grid capacity for renewable energy."

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