Ireland's energy regulator has confirmed that up to 1300 MW of renewable energy will be eligible to hook up to the grid in the country's second round of "group processing" of applications for connection, known as Gate 2. Since 2004, the country has adopted a regime of dealing with connection applications in limited numbers of geographical groups. This was introduced to deal with a flood of applications to connect to the Irish network that system operators argue is too weak to absorb a huge quantity of variable generation. Some 370 MW of wind power projects were offered connection by the system operators under Gate 1. If all Gate 1 projects accept their offers, it will bring the total renewable energy capacity installed or contracted to 1567 MW. A further 3184 MW currently waits in the grid connection application queue. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) now confirms the broad details outlined in a consultation paper in April, when it proposed that 500 MW of projects that are at the head of the queue for connections be allowed in under Gate 2 plus a further 800 MW of capacity which meets certain "system optimisation criteria." This could mean projects that are extensions to existing projects where the shallow connection to the network needs no upgrade, or projects that are grouped with a "driver" project that is already eligible for connection under Gate 1 or under the first 500 MW of Gate 2. The CER expects Gate 2 applicants to start receiving connection offers from January 2007, with all offers issued by around summer 2007.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol