Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (180)

Ray Butler


180. Deputy Ray Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views in relation to the electricity market here, which is a single 5000 MW market covering the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; the amount of electricity sourced from wind energy currently connected into the grid here; the proportion available from the Republic of Ireland and the proportion from Northern Ireland; the amount of wind energy currently in planning, development and-or grid connection queuing stage here and in Northern Ireland; the reason the offshore wind development off the Arklow coast, County Wicklow, does not contribute any electricity to the Irish grid or to any other electrical power user; when it is planned to use the electricity generated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26597/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

By end of Quarter 1 of this year there was 1,763MW of wind energy generated electricity connected to the grid in the Republic of Ireland and 551 MW connected in Northern Ireland. In 2012, 15.5% of electricity demand in the Republic of Ireland was met from wind energy generated electricity sourced in the Single Electricity Market (SEM). In Northern Ireland the corresponding proportion was 11.6%. In 2012, 17% of electricity demand on the island of Ireland was met by renewable generation sourced from the SEM.

In order to take a structured approach to the connection of the amounts of renewable generation necessary to achieve the Government’s target of 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) established the Gate 3 Connection Process in 2008. Under this process grid connection offers have been made for around 3,900 MW of renewable generation, the bulk of which is wind. It is now a matter for project developers to accept or reject these offers in the coming months. In Northern Ireland, a total of 928 MW of wind energy capacity is contracted to connect to the grid by the end of 2015.

The Arklow Bank wind farm is a distribution connected wind farm and is 25MW in size. I am advised by ESB Networks that this offshore wind farm is operational and has an active connection to the distribution grid. Information regarding the status of renewable generation capacity development in the Single Electricity Market (SEM), including wind, is available on the EirGrid website and I would draw the Deputy’s attention to the recently published All Island Renewable Connection Report in this regard.