Government drags its feet

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It is an irony that the country with one of the strongest wind regimes in Europe should report one of the lowest rates of wind development in 2001. Just three wind projects for 7 MW were completed, bringing the national total to 125 MW. The reason, claims the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA), is the government's delay in awarding contracts for renewable capacity after its most recent call for tenders under the Alternative Energy Requirement (AER). IWEA's Inge Buckley points out that four years have passed between the previous round of AER support for wind and AER 5, which was announced only in February 2001.

Of the three projects built during 2001, only one -- DP Energy's 3.4 MW plant -- has an AER contract. Eirtricity built its 3 MW project to supply power to small business customers who have signed up for green electricity under its special tariff, while Fuinneamh Gaoithe added a single turbine alongside its existing four turbine wind cluster at Inverin.

The outlook for 2002 is only slightly less bleak. Buckley predicts that some of the small scale wind projects that were granted AER 5 contracts will be built during the year. But at least 50% of the large proposals still need to secure consent for their connections to the grid. This could delay them by up to a year.

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