Could solar technology power the entire of Cornwall by 2030?

Following on from her post on the challenges facing solar development in Cornwall, Sophie Orme forecasts that Solar technology will still be the dominant technology to power Cornwall in 2030, providing enough clean electricity to power all of Cornwall’s residential and industrial electricity demand.

The goal of the Cornwall Energy island concept is to halve energy costs and double jobs in Cornwall by 2030. With mainstream analysts predicting that large scale Solar PV will be the cheapest form of power across the board by 2025, and creating 20 new jobs per MW installed for commercial systems, solar PV must not only continue to be the dominant renewable technology in Cornwall, but the largest power provider of all, sitting at the heart of a modern, smart, decentralised grid.

Having been at the frontier of the solar revolution in the last five years, Cornish businesses and tradespeople have built up the skills and know-how needed to install and maintain systems safely and efficiently from domestic through to utility scale. Looking forward, there will be a need for a complimentary mix or renewable generators (see Ecotricity’s hybrid news) and new distributed energy business models featuring storage, active local networks, and flexibility in the power system.

Solar PV has clear advantages over the other option, especially when married up with energy storage, where battery costs are falling at a similar rate: proven technology and costs; extreme speed to construct and commission; and safe, clean systems that can be installed in harmony with local ecosystems / agriculture in mind. The maintenance requirements are minimal and the power production is guaranteed for 25 years.

I forecast that there will be total of c.2GW of solar PV installed by 2030 in Cornwall, leading to 22,000 new jobs[1], and providing enough clean power for all of Cornwall’s domestics and industrial demand. This amount of installed solar PV would require c.2.3% of Cornwall’s land mass.

Any objections to solar should be manageable through sound local engagement, planning rules that ensure benefits can be recycled into the community, and local leaders promoting the overarching Cornwall Energy Island vision.

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Sophie Orme is a Renewable Energy Consultant living in Cornwall and former Projects Director at Solarcentury. 


[1] BRE estimate that for every MW of commercial solar installed, 20 new jobs are created, and 7 jobs for large scales solar. For addition of 1575MW of new solar installed, a mix of project types has been assumed.

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