Cornwall’s journey to energy independence has already begun

In the second of our Energy Independence blogs, Dan Nicholls, Principal Development Officer, Cornwall Council, reflects on how the approach to the Cornwall Energy island initiative continues to support the region’s energy ambitions

Written by: Dan Nicholls, Principal Development Officer at Cornwall Council

With the Government rightly intent on keeping the lights on and fuel bills down, but wrongly intent on perpetuating a centralised energy system, Cornwall and other peripheral regions across England need a different vision for an energy system. Energy Island offers a glimpse of what Cornwall’s energy future might look like it we are prepared to think differently and work collectively.

Energy Island thinking is not about cutting ourselves off from the rest of the system, but about focusing on ensuring that the energy system works best for Cornwall. Cornwall is ideally placed to develop this new approach and the Cornwall Devolution Deal highlights the fact that we can and should do things differently.

So the journey has already begun.

Through the Devolutions Deal we are already starting to do things differently. We are preparing to drive home energy efficiency from the bottom up, based on the needs of our housing stock and local residents, rather than picking the easiest solutions every time. We are developing a series of community energy pilots aimed at reducing reliance on national subsidies and embedding community energy groups in the fabric of Cornwall’s energy system. We are exploring new ways to drive investment into energy infrastructure that reduces reliance on national programmes. And we are putting in place the conditions to allow Cornwall’s new energy technologies to emerge (geothermal, wave, for example) in a way that generates local jobs and promotes local participation.

Through these actions we are working to create a market for energy within Cornwall – one that allows value of generation, supply and energy management activities to be retained within Cornwall for the benefit of local people and our economy.

These are examples of energy island thinking. They are examples of an energy island in the making.  But if Cornwall is to reach its full potential we need to maintain broad consensus about where we are headed and we need long term commitment from our leaders and decision-makers. This is why I value the inclusive and objective approach taken by Buro Happold and the Eden Project. Local jobs, security, health and more money in our pockets are common interests, as is the future of our environment. If we can work collectively to target these common interests the Cornwall Devolution Deal will be the first step on the journey towards a better energy future for Cornwall – Cornwall’s energy island.

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