Cornwall has launched an ambitious bid to become a “living laboratory” to help the Government’s plans for a renewable energy future.
Cornwall Council chiefs have written to energy minister Greg Barker suggesting the county could be transformed into a renewable energy “observatory” for the nation.
The bid continues a calculated plan by the council’s Green Cornwall programme to become the greenest local authority in the UK by harnessing Cornwall’s natural resources to develop the economy by creating “low-carbon jobs”.
Tim German, the renewable energy and partnerships manager for the programme, said: “Cornwall is a living laboratory for renewable energy. It is extremely well placed as a low-carbon observatory as it ticks all of the renewable energy boxes.
“For example, Cornwall has the highest levels of solar irradiation in the whole of the mainland UK for solar power technologies.
“It is known to have the best capability for power generated from the hot rocks to be found beneath its land. The council has already granted planning permissions for two geothermal plants to operate in Cornwall.
“We also have some of the best wind speeds, excellent opportunities for biomass and anaerobic digestion, and we are surrounded by seas perfect for wave energy generation and some tidal technology.”
Mr German said the council was determined to work with both public and private sector partners to reshape the Cornish economy into a thriving, versatile one based on low-carbon economic growth. But he insisted that the ambitions of the Green Cornwall programme pushed well beyond the boundaries of the Tamar and called on the Government to tap into the natural resources available in the county to bolster the Government’s own green claims.
Mr German said: “We want to build the skills and the businesses and create low-carbon jobs on the back of renewable energy deployment.
“It is a model which is tried and tested in places like Navarra in northern Spain.”
A number of solar energy projects have been approved in Cornwall.
The council said the Government had been criticised for its “confused stance on renewable energy”.
Earlier this month renewable energy experts – including council bosses – expressed their disappointment at Government plans to slash the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) subsidy paid to people generating solar energy.
The Government said the tariff review was prompted by large-scale projects threatening to use up the cash fund which was intended to subsidise homes and small businesses for generating green energy. Energy experts had earlier predicted a solar “gold rush” in Cornwall, after the council approved a number of commercial solar energy projects looking to access the tariff.
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