Energy minister tells conference 2000 MW due online in next three years

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Some 300 people attended this year's Irish Wind Energy Conference held March 30-31 in Dublin -- a record for an Irish wind event. Wind will be pivotal in delivering the country's new target of 33% of electricity from renewables by 2020, natural resources minister Noel Dempsey told delegates. Current growth in the wind sector means the country should be able to meet its goals, he said, with 2000 MW expected to come online in the next three years. Around 620 MW of this is being built under the new renewable energy feed in tariff (REFIT) awaiting state aid clearance. The REFIT program has brought clarity to investors and developers, he said pointing out that the REFIT does not have a closing date when support will be cut off. "There is a discretion to increase the capacity to be supported which I believe will be of significant importance as gate two connection offers emerge," he said, referring to offers for grid connection. The transmission and distribution network operators are currently processing 1300 MW of applications to connect to the wires in Gate 2. Paddy Teahon, president of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said the 33% target was a step in the right direction but Ireland could be even more ambitious. The wind industry was capable of delivering over 4000 MW, provided decisive action was taken on grid connections and increasing interconnection between Ireland and the UK. This needed more co-ordination between the government, energy regulator Sustainable Energy Ireland, and the transmission and distribution operators.

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