Ireland will capitalise on its abundant wind energy by selling it to Britain following the signing of an historic agreement.
Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte and UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey signed a memorandum of understanding during a conference hosted by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
The memo affirms the two states' commitment to a strong partnership on energy issues and their electricity markets and paves the way for some of the world's largest wind turbines to be built across the Irish midlands to generate energy for millions of UK homes from 2017.
Mr Rabbitte said the country produces more energy than it can use and that an opportunity to trade with its nearest neighbours cannot be missed.
"Ireland has the potential to generate far more wind energy than we could consume domestically," he said. "The opportunity to export this green power presents an opportunity for employment growth and export earnings which we must seize if we can."
Mr Davey said the Ireland-Britain partnership would benefit the economies of both countries.
"Trading power with Ireland could increase the amount of green power in our energy mix and potentially bring down costs for UK consumers," he said. "Making the most of the natural renewable resource available around our islands could benefit the economies of both countries."
The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) estimated that up to 30,000 jobs could be created across the country by 2020 and according to the Department of Energy, the construction phase of a 3,000-megawatt project alone could create up to 6,000 jobs.
The ongoing maintenance of turbines could also provide employment as well as the manufacturing of turbine, cables and other technology involved.
IWEA chief executive Kenneth Matthews said Ireland stands to become a major renewable energy exporter.
"The electricity sector is on the cusp of transformational change with renewables and wind energy at the heart of it," he said.
"Efficient use of existing and new interconnectors to increase our ability to integrate wind energy and to export surplus wind-generated electricity will be central to this transition."
Irish Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the deal marked a historic chance to transform the Irish economy.
He said: "The UK gets cheaper Irish wind power while we get investment and income and the ability to balance our variable power supplies so we can move to a 100% renewable powered economy."