First UK solar power plant to go-ahead

Cornwall Council has given the thumbs up to the first ever medium-scale solar power plant in the UK to be located at a disused tine mine near Truro.

The council gave the planned 1.35 megawatt (MW) solar plant the go-ahead on Monday which is expected to generate enough power for 300 households and attract up to £1bn to the Cornwall area. The arrangement of two-metre high panels will save an estimated 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 25 years in comparison to more traditional energy supplies.

Cornwall, being Britain’s sunniest region, is expected to receive 1,000 hours of sunshine per solar unit.  Project developer 35 Degrees has teamed up with solar panel manufacturer Solon SE for the project after the government’s announcement last month that a new policy would allow local councils to sell excess green energy to the local grid like the export tariff in the Feed-in Tariff (FIT).

Stephen McCabe, Managing Director of 35 Degrees, said: “This is the first major milestone for the UK in directly harvesting the inexhaustible energy of the sun to address major issues such as energy stability and carbon reduction.

“It is also the first building block in bringing a new growth industry to Cornwall and the UK. We are excited to be leading the way in this venture.”

Carolyn Rule, Cornwall Council cabinet member for the Economy and Regeneration, added: “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.”

The project has been estimated to cost around £4m to develop with a four to six week construction period. The first electricity generation isn’t expected until next year, though.

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