I propose to take Questions Nos. 483 to 485, inclusive, together.
Supervision of the grid connection process is vested in the Commission for Energy Regulation. The Gate 3 Direction to System Operators (CER/08/260), published in December 2008, sets out the list of projects to receive grid connection offers. As explained in the Direction, Gate 3 was designed to ensure the 40% target for renewable electricity by 2020 could be achieved, and this was based on an assumption that 5,800MWs of renewable generation would be required. Gate 3 followed Gates 1 and 2, and provided for additional grid connection offers totalling almost 4,000MWs.
Due to changes in economic conditions since the publication of the Gate 3 Direction in 2008, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland estimated for the First Progress Report on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan that the amount of MWs needed to meet the 40% renewable electricity target has fallen to approximately 4,000MWs.
As regards the take up of connection offers under Gate 3 to date, EirGrid, the Transmission System Operator, has informed my Department that 13 entities have taken up transmission offers in Gate 3. They include 2 conventional generators and 11 wind farm projects. In addition, EirGrid inform me that a significant number of Gate 3 transmission connection offers are under consideration at present. ESB Networks, the Distribution System Operator, states that 32 offers have been accepted under Gate 3 for connection to the distribution system.
Under Gate 3 rules, generators must accept a grid connection offer within 50 business days of receipt of the combined connection offer and constraint report. On this basis, Gate 3 acceptances are scheduled to complete in October this year.
A decision on any potential future Gate has not yet been taken. Any definition of a future Gate will take account of the outcome of the Gate 3 process.