Cornwall’s Solar Plant is UK’s First

Planning permission has been given for the UK’s first solar power station. Energy company 35 Degrees was given approval for a 1.55MW solar park, situated across more than seven acres at the site of the former Wheal Jane tin mine, near Truro.

The ground-mounted solar panels are expected to generate enough electricity to supply 300 households. The development is due to be complete in early 2011, and will include about 5,000 panels, each approximately two metres high.

Following the introduction of the electricity feed-in tariff by the government in spring 2010, Cornwall Council says it is preparing for a solar power gold rush. As renewable energy companies put forward proposals for more solar parks, it could create up to £1 billion of investment, with the council anticipating up to 100 planning applications. The council, which is fully committed to becoming energy self-sufficient by 2025, says it is working with the companies to encourage responsible development that will benefit and sustain the local economy.

Cornwall offers the best opportunities in the UK for solar parks and has a history of pioneering activity in other renewable energy developments, says the council, which has recently approved the plans for Britain’s first geothermal power plant. In 1991, Cornwall welcomed the UK’s first commercial wind farm, while the ‘wave hub’ – a pioneering wave power research project – is currently being developed off the county’s northern coast.

Meanwhile, Cornwall Council has also backed a plan to develop its own large-scale solar park on council-owned land near to Newquay Airport. The Kernow Solar Farm would be the first of its kind in the country to be owned and operated by a local authority.