Plan for network of wind farms in Offaly

Tuesday 26 June 2012 22.06
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Electricity could be exported to the UK through an undersea cable
Electricity could be exported to the UK through an undersea cable
Eddie O'Connor said the plan will create thousands of jobs
Eddie O'Connor said the plan will create thousands of jobs

Former Bord na Móna chief executive Eddie O'Connor has launched a new wind energy project in the midlands.

The plan aims to create 5,000 jobs in construction and 500 permanent jobs in electricity generation.

Mr O'Connor plans to create a network of wind farms in Co Offaly to produce electricity for export to the UK.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he rejected claims that wind energy does not work in Ireland.

Mr O'Connor said it is a "radical claim" to say that wind energy does not work.

He also rejected claims that wind energy projects cannot work without subsidies.

On his wind energy project in the midlands, Mr O'Connor said it is a big development.

He said Ireland's wind for export at full output will equal its entire dairy export.

The €12.5bn plan involves exporting electricity from Ireland to the UK via an undersea cable.

"Mainstream Renewable Power" said it has decided to put all power lines underground in an attempt to ensure the project goes ahead before 2020.

Mr O'Connor, who set-up and sold Airtricity after he left Bord na Móna, said the future for thousands of jobs in the midlands will depend on alternative energy projects after peat supplies in Bord na Móna run out after 2020.

Elsewhere, the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources has told the Dáil that Ireland cannot have wind farms on every crossroads.

Pat Rabbitte was responding to a question on wind farms from Sinn Féin's Martin Ferris, who asked about having fewer, larger onshore wind farms.