File pics 14 windfarm

Good news on the breeze

IT is hoped that wind power could be the key to future Irish employment opportunities, with new plans just unveiled.

The potential creation of 40 new wind farms across the country could create up to 2,000 full-time jobs, this following a deal between energy firm Element Power and the UK's National Grid.

Ireland's next door neighbor is facing an energy crisis, and needs new sources of renewable energy in order to meet green power pledges on reducing its carbon footprint.

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Element currently operate a base in County Cork, and the new farms could power cities and towns across Britain when completed. It is hoped the farms, containing swathes of windmills, could be built by 2017, if they overcome planning hurdles.

They are wind farms currently earmarked for counties including Kildare, Laois and Meath among others, with planning applications due to be submitted next year.

The scheme, dubbed the "Greenwire" project, is worth up to €8 billion, and could see environmentally friendly energy becoming Ireland's trademark export.

"Greenwire is the enabling project that will allow this to happen boosting our national trade and generating consider­able employment and benefit to the Midlands region," said Tim Cowhig, Element Power Ireland's chief executive.

"In anticipation of getting UK grid connection, the company has been working in Ireland over the past two years identifying potential wind farm sites, speaking with local authorities, working with environmental consultants and reaching agreements with land-owners. This is an important step in enabling the project and helping us to meet our target of exporting renewable energy to the UK by 2018," he said.