Industry leaders in Cornwall are calling for floating windfarms off the coast, which could unlock green growth and create thousands of jobs, if power is landed directly in Cornwall.
The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed around the UK, will invite energy companies to bid for leases to build the windfarms in the Celtic Sea later this summer. The intention is to unlock 4GW of electricity by 2035, which is enough for three million homes, with potential for 24GW in the years to follow. The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has compared this to Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, which will bring 3.2GW when complete.
Industry leaders in Cornwall are now urging both The Crown Estate and the National Grid to bring at least 2GW ashore in Cornwall by 2030 as part of the first phase of Celtic Sea development.
Campaigners have said that the Duchy’s existing electricity network is holding back the development and growth of industry, and the ability to ‘plug’ more green energy generation into the National Grid because it is ‘so constrained.’ An estimated 80% of potential renewables projects in Cornwall are having to wait until 2036 for a grid connection because of capacity constraints.
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In addition, concerns have been raised that the county could miss out if power from the first Celtic Sea turbines all lands in Wales of other parts of the South West.
Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “If you think of the National Grid like your ring main at home, it basically ends in mid-Cornwall. This lack of capacity is holding back industries old and new, threatening to stifle jobs and investment, which is why we need urgent action.
“A direct 2GW connection from the first phase of the Celtic Sea would literally energise our economy and unlock industries that can play a vital role in the UK’s energy transition, creating thousands of jobs. This includes mining critical minerals like lithium and tin, geothermal energy and methane capture, all of which are being pioneered in Cornwall.
“It will decarbonise existing industries by providing an abundance of clean, green electricity and more capacity for local green energy generation. That’s why it’s vital the electricity generated from floating wind makes landfall in Cornwall before the end of this decade, and those decisions are being made now.”
Cornish Lithium is among the Cornish businesses backing calls for a direct Celtic Sea connection. Its founder and chief executive Jeremy Wrathall, said: “A floating offshore wind connection to Cornwall will facilitate the use of clean energy from the Celtic Sea to power the industrial processes required to produce battery-grade materials for electric vehicles, at a scale required to support the energy transition as highlighted in the Government’s Critical Minerals Strategy.
“An upgraded transmission system will allow the critical mineral sector in Cornwall to develop more on-site renewable generation as part of a sustainable net zero business. It’s a win-win, but only with the right connection, at the right time, and that time is fast approaching, if not here already.”
The North Cornwall coast has been identified as the most suitable location for a cable to make land. A new electricity sub-station on Cornwall Council owned land could connect to the National Grid at Indian Queens just a few miles away.
St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Double added: “Given The Crown Estate’s stated aims of helping to create social and economic value, and to incentivise investment in critical enabling infrastructure, plugging Cornwall directly into the Celtic Sea as part of a first phase of floating windfarms is hopefully a no-brainer. As such it’s also something which the National Grid can also sign up to. The potential benefits are enormous and would be felt far beyond Cornwall’s borders.”
Cornwall Council Leader, Linda Taylor said: “We are strategically located for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and are very focussed on the near-term opportunity for electricity to come ashore here in Cornwall. We want to be first and we have technically viable locations to enable this, and an imperative to help deliver the decarbonisation potential that this infrastructure could have for our critical industries and our sustainable future.”
Earlier this week (April 20) Cornwall Council announced that almost £1m has been awarded to Falmouth Docks & Engineering Company, operated by A&P Group, from the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund for an environmental impact assessment to inform potential redevelopment at the port to support the floating wind sector in the Celtic Sea.
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