A green energy power plant big enough to power 5,000 homes is to be built in the Midlands, it has been revealed.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced details of the Biotricity biomass plant in Rhode, Co Offaly which will use homegrown willow trees to generate enough energy for a town the size of Edenderry.
It will create 200 jobs during construction and employ 65 permanent staff.
The facility will also produce 120,000 tonnes of processed biofuel for the commercial energy market.
Mr Cowen said: "It is a shining example of the tangible benefits that the smart economy can bring. It is good news for the environment and it is good news for local jobs."
Declan Kennedy, Biotricity managing director, said the development was a milestone.
"We are announcing the construction of a plant that will be powered by the sustainable supply of willow grown by Irish farmers on Irish land," Mr Kennedy said.
"Not only will the Biotricity plant make a valuable contribution to local jobs and the local economy by supporting growers of biomass and in taking goods and services during construction and operation, the facility will also help secure Ireland's sustainable energy future which is crucial to energy security and ultimately the cost of power to Irish homes and businesses."
The 40 million euro Biotricity plant is next to the old ESB power station, which was decommissioned in 2002.
Construction will commence during Spring 2011 and should be completed and operational by the middle of 2012.