An Irish subsidiary of a US group has announced that 2,000 jobs are expected to be created in 40 new wind farms by 2018.

Element Power has signed a contract with Britain's electricity grid to supply it with renewable energy over two dedicated sub-sea cables from Ireland to Wales.

The new wind farms are proposed for counties Meath, Westmeath, Kildare, Laois and Offaly and the project itself is worth €8bn.

Element Power said it is in discussions with An Bord Pleanála about making a planning application under a process for major infrastructural projects and has begun talks with land owners.

The company said there will be no overhead lines from the wind farms, as cables will be laid on the verge of public roads in a  manner similar to phone lines.

The project is expected to generate 2,000 full-time jobs in the operation, maintenance and servicing of the wind farms. Another 1,000 jobs will be created in Britain.

Element Power, which has operations in 12 countries, has signed a contract to supply €1.2bn of electricity to Britain's National Grid UK.

The project is being financed by investment from its parent US private equity group Hudson Clean Energy Partners.

Element Power Chief Executive Tim Cowhig said: "The UK energy requirement has become Ireland’s opportunity.

"It makes perfect sense to capitalise on our geographic location and create an export industry."