Mainstream Renewable Power ceo Eddie O’Connor has ambitious but, he says, realistic plans, for a 5000 MW wind park in Ireland to ‘plug the energy gap in the UK’. Mainstream has identified 900 eligible landowners in the midlands area of Ireland who could accommodate the necessary wind turbines.

The company has invested €500,000 to secure a grid connection to the UK and hopes to reach agreement with the landowners by October. Mr O’Connor, a former Bord na Móna chief executive, believes that renewable energy for export has the potential to make €2.5 billion for Ireland every year at full output. Mainstream intends to submit a planning application by 2015, and to be exporting energy to the UK by 2017.

The new wind farm, to be called “Energy Bridge”, is expected to employ 5000 people during construction and create a further 500 permanent jobs in maintenance and operation.

Mainstream Renewable Power has a track record working with Chinese investors on projects in Chile and the USA and he now wants to work with them on this new project. “They have disposable revenues to invest in secure places like Ireland,” he said.

Power export would be via new undersea cables between Ireland and Wales, to be laid by Mainstream. They would be merchant lines, completely separate from Ireland’s existing electrical infrastructure and not be paid for by the Irish consumers, said the company.