Plans have been announced for the country's largest community wind farm to be developed on Mount Callan in County Clare. The project represents an investment of €200m, and will be capable of meeting the energy needs of all of Clare and half of County Limerick.

30 farm families will have the biggest shareholding in the new company - West Clare Renewable Energy - which is behind the project.

They collectively own more than 3,000 acres of mostly elevated land on Mount Callan - between Ennis and Miltown Malbay - where it is planned to construct 30 three megawatt wind turbines. 300 jobs are expected to be provided during the two and a half year construction phase.

Efforts to develop a wind farm in the Mount Callan area has been going on for 15 years. Local landowner John Talty said the plan was designed to create long-term sustainable employment , reverse depopulation in the area, and help struggling farmers to secure an alternative form of income.

The project is also in line with Government plans to invest in cleaner energy sources. Ireland is currently 90% dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation, and spends several billion euro each year on imported fuels.

Energy efficiency improving - SEI

The Irish economy managed to record a 10% improvement in energy efficiency between 1995 and 2007, resulting in savings of €750m.

A new report published today by Sustainable Energy Ireland also says that the savings made in 2007 alone were the equivalent to the annual energy usage of half a million houses.

Today's SEI report - Energy efficiency in Ireland 2009 - shows that the country performed better than the European average for energy efficiency gains in both residential and industrial sectors.

The report shows that during the years under review energy efficiency for industry improved by 16%, while the residential sector saw a 15% improvement..

It also says that despite the fact that transport energy use grew faster than the economy between 1995 and 2007, energy efficiency in the industry improved slightly by 1.4%.

'The carbon emissions savings made as a result of energy efficiency measures greatly exceed the contribution from renewable energy,' commented the CEO of Sustainable Energy Ireland, Professor Owen Lewis.

'The role of energy efficiency must be prioritised for its economic, social and environmental benefits. Ireland's transformation to a smart, green economy will depend on how we use energy, as much as how we produce or source it,' he added.