Green electricity developers say they are shut out of the national grid

Delays in getting connections to the national grid are preventing new renewable projects from supplying electricity in the Republic, solar energy developers claim.

Electricity supplies are under pressure from stretched capacity, generator shutdowns and a lack of new power stations to replace ones closed in recent years.

The Irish Solar Energy Association claims that delays of 12-27 months in connecting new projects to the national electricity grid provided by State company Eirgrid and ESB Networks are shutting out potential extra supplies.

Conall Bolger, the lobby group’s chief executive, maintains that practically every renewable project struggles to connect to the grid.

“The costs are highly unpredictable, completely out of line with the rest of Europe and, worst of all, it takes far too long to deliver,” he said.

Mr Bolger said it should take six months from the point at which construction begins for a solar plant to begin generating power, but delays mean it takes more than twice that time.

He added there was a “reasonable expectation” that much of the 796 megawatts (MW) – equal to two gas-generating plants – of solar power approved for price supports would be connected to the grid by now.

“But despite consistent cajoling from the industry nothing seems to speed up the two state agencies to play their part,” he claimed.