The £1bn solar power gold rush


Cornwall Council is preparing for a solar power gold rush in the coming months as renewable energy companies put forward proposals for solar developments.

The rush to set up photo-voltaic solar power developments could lead to up to £1 billion of investment. Cornwall Council is working closely with the renewable energy companies to encourage responsible development and investment in Cornwall that will benefit the local economy.

More than 40 companies have expressed an interest in developing ‘solar farms’ in Cornwall and a dozen companies have indicated to the Council their intention to put in planning applications. In total up to 100 planning applications are anticipated – on average each development would represent a potential investment of up to £10 million.

“In Cornwall we are leading the way with our pioneering approach to renewable energy”

The first solar park in the UK has now been granted planning permission in Cornwall. Energy company 35 Degrees Limited was recently (September 16) granted planning permission for the development of a 1.55MW solar park on a 4ha site at the former Wheal Jane mine site, 4.5km south west of Truro.

Carolyn Rule, Cornwall Council cabinet member for the economy and regeneration, said: “These are very exciting times – Cornwall is in a fantastic position with this amazing level of interest in renewable technology.

“We need to make the most of this unique opportunity and we are working with the private sector to ensure that this huge investment brings real benefits to people in Cornwall in terms of new jobs, new infrastructure and business opportunities.”

Cornwall is fast establishing a reputation for renewable energy development. The council recently resolved to grant planning permission for the first geothermal power station in the UK and the first commercial wind farm was developed in Cornwall in 1991. A wave power research project – Wave Hub – is currently being developed off the Hayle coast.

Cornwall Council has also backed a plan to develop its own solar park on land near Newquay Airport which would enable the council to sell electricity onto the National Grid itself.

Julian German, Cornwall Council cabinet member for climate change, said: “In Cornwall we are leading the way with our pioneering approach to renewable energy. There is a huge appetite for green energy and we are supremely well placed to make the most of the current opportunities.”

And the Council’s efforts are being broadly welcomed. Sonya Bedford, head of renewable energy at regional law firm Stephens Scown, said: “We applaud and positively support Cornwall Council in its drive to be at the very forefront of renewable energy technologies.

“To see Cornwall being so enthusiastic about renewable energies is something we wholeheartedly endorse and would actively encourage other local authorities in the region to follow suit.”