The electricity and gas markets are warming up for a new competitor as Airtricity gets ready to target the Irish domestic and business markets.

The company plans to sell both electricity and gas into homes and offices. It plans to have its first commercial gas customers in November this year, and to launch on the domestic scene next April.

Kevin Greenhorn, Airtricity's managing director, says the changed regulatory environment in Ireland means the time is now right to hit the market.

The company is now owned by Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), which bought it for €1.1 billion earlier this year. In the UK, SSE is the biggest non-nuclear and  renewable energy firm.

It wants to grab a 15% market share, or 500,000 connections, within five years of launching in Ireland. The company says it will supply electricity and gas, and will also eventually provide metering, telecoms and other energy services in Ireland.

Earlier this summer Bord Gáis announced plans to enter the Irish electricity market and Russian giant Gazprom is also on its way.