The development of Ireland's grid network is to take account of up to 3000 MW of wind capacity that is to be granted firm connection dates in the next round of grid connection offers. This is the latest proposal from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). The regulator's proposal results from its December 2007 consultation on the way forward for the next round of processing of applications for wind farm grid connection -- known as "Gate 3." Most responses to the consultation favoured an approach suggested by the system operators whereby any reinforcements to the grid are planned in advance to meet anticipated generation rather than the operators reacting to applications for grid connection, as is now the case. This Grid Development Strategy approach assumes that by 2025, renewable energy generation--mostly wind--will account for at least 33% of Ireland's electricity, in line with the current government target for 2020. This will require some 4700 MW of renewables capacity. Operating renewables plant and projects contracted under Gate 2 so far account for up to 2800 MW of capacity, which leaves around a further 2000 MW needing to be connected to the system. The CER points out, however, that a significant proportion of the projects not yet built are unlikely to proceed due to difficulties obtaining site building permits and other reasons. For this reason it proposes that 3000 MW should be offered a grid connection agreement under Gate 3. These offers should go to applicants in order of their entry into the queue, proposes CER, noting that some projects applied for connection as far back as 2004. The CER claims that its proposed long term and strategic program of transmission development optimises the connection of a large volume of renewables generating capacity. Connection offers for all 3000 MW in Gate 3 are expected to roll out from August 2009 to September 2010.
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