Two Irish-led consortiums have won half the licences granted by the UK government yesterday to develop £100bn worth (€111bn) of offshore wind farms around the country.
Dublin-based SSE Renewables, formerly Airtricity, which was acquired by Scottish & Southern Energy two years ago, is a key part of a group that has been selected to develop 12,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore projects over the next decade.
Other members of the so-called Forewind consortium include Germany's RWE Npower Renewables, and Norwegian companies Statoil and Statkraft.
Airtricity founder Eddie O'Connor's new venture Mainstream Renewable Power, together with partner Siemens Project Ventures, has been awarded a contract to develop a further 4,000MW (four gigawatts) of wind farms.
Mr O'Connor is confident of delivering its project "in record time". "This is about delivering a whole new industry for the UK, one that provides sustainable, secure and indigenous power as well as tens of thousands of new jobs," he said.
The cost of developing all 32,000MW of wind farms could require investment of around £100bn, according to Crown Estate, owner of the UK seabed.
The projects, which are due to be up and running within the next decade, could provide enough energy to power the equivalent of 19 million homes.
Some 4GW of the wind farms are slated for the Irish Sea, with 1.5GW in the Bristol Channel, both closer to Irish waters.
The secretary of the National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland, Brian Britton, said: "The development of 4GW in close proximity to Irish waters gives Ireland a major opportunity to develop businesses which can support this deployment."