Ireland's energy regulator has directed that up to 3900 MW of new wind capacity should be hooked up to the electricity network in the upcoming round of grid connections. Known as "Gate 3," this is the third and largest round of processing of applications from wind developers wanting to connect to the transmission or distribution network in Ireland. Gate 3 is designed to ensure that Ireland meets its 2020 target of 40% of electricity from renewables, says the Commission of Energy Regulation (CER). The scale of Gate 3 was increased from the CER's original proposal of 3000 MW after the government upped its renewables target from 33% to 40%. The new 2020 target will demand 5800 MW of installed renewables capacity, most of it from wind. A total of 2800 MW could in theory be delivered through 1300 MW of existing capacity and projects approved for connection under Gate 2. But CER points out that a proportion of the projects offered connection contracts will fail to be built. To allow for this and for further growth in consumer demand beyond 2020, it calculates that an additional 3900 MW of capacity is needed from Gate 3. The CER is also directing the network owners -- Eirgrid and ESB Networks -- to start upgrades now to cater for higher levels of renewables and conventional generation in the long term. It argues this is more cost effective and efficient than the current short-term piecemeal approach to grid development. Indeed, CER's new grid development strategy is in line with Eirgrid's own ambitious transmission strategy for a timely development of the high voltage grid.
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