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The integration of increasing penetrations of renewable energy sources is one of the key drivers for the increased deployment of control and optimization on power systems. Much of this wind generation is connected to the distribution system, which presents a range of challenges to the operation of these networks, traditionally utilized solely for power delivery. This paper describes a demonstration program in Ireland which addresses two of the key challenges in delivering high penetrations of wind energy in a cost-effective and efficient manner. First, the paper addresses a trial of the advanced reactive power control capabilities of modern wind turbines, investigating how this resource can be better utilized from a distribution and transmission perspective. The second aspect is measures to improve the efficiency of the distribution system in light of these increasing penetrations of wind energy.