This year’s G-7 Summit is taking place in the county of Cornwall, a part of south west England known for its stunning coastline, historic fishing villages and natural beauty.
Not only is Cornwall a popular destination for tourists – the county’s beaches are full of holidaymakers in the summer – it is also becoming a kind of hub for companies working on renewable energy and innovation projects.
This week a number of these developments have made significant strides. On Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson installed the first solar panels in what has been dubbed the UK’s “first utility-scale energy farm”.
According to the energy company ScottishPower, a subsidiary of the Spanish Iberdrola, 10,000 modules will be installed at the site. The 10-megawatt solar park will complement a 20-MW wind park that is already in operation and a 1-MW battery storage system.
ScottishPower said the Carland Cross energy farm would be able to generate enough energy “to power the equivalent of 15,000 households.”
While Johnson is keen to be seen as a renewable energy advocate and a priority for sustainability, the fact that he flew to Cornwall instead of using an alternative form of transportation has received harsh criticism from some quarters.
In a response to his critics, widely reported in the UK media, Johnson was quoted as saying, “If you attack my arrival by air, I respectfully point out that Britain is indeed a leader in developing sustainable aviation fuel and one of the points in the 10-point plan for our green industrial revolution is to achieve ‘Jet Zero’. “
In addition to wind and solar projects, Cornwall is also home to a fledgling geothermal sector. A company called Geothermal Engineering Limited is working on a number of projects, including a geothermal swimming pool in the town of Penzance.
The company is also developing the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project near the town of Redruth.
The United Downs project, which is focused on the construction of a geothermal power plant, has been developed over the years and focuses on two wells, 5,275 and 2,393 meters (17,306 and 7,851 feet) deep.
On Monday, a company called Cornish Lithium announced that it had successfully built a geothermal water test site in United Downs. The company’s goal is to test direct lithium extraction technologies in shallow and deep geothermal waters.
In a statement released with the announcement, Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium, said that his company’s test site in United Downs gave him “an opportunity to demonstrate what modern, low-carbon mineral extraction looks like”. The results, he added, would “feed into the development of a larger pilot plant”.
As electric car sales rise and the world’s hunger for technology grows, materials like lithium will be important in the years to come, a point Cornish Lithium highlights on its website.
“As vital components of electric vehicle batteries and energy storage,” it said, “the potential for metals such as lithium, tin and cobalt to be extracted in Cornwall could be a significant strategic advantage for the UK.”
While Cornwall is home to a number of land energy projects, the nearby waters also offer room for development.
For example, in April it was announced that a research project focused on the potential of tidal, wave and floating wind technology has received support from Marine-i, a program that focuses on innovation in areas such as ocean energy.
The project is based on the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the Cornish coast, and is led by Isles of Scilly Community Venture, Planet A Energy and Waves4Power.
According to Marine-i, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the overall goal of the Isles of Scilly project is to “build a new database of data on wave and tidal resources”.
This data contains information about a range of metrics such as wave height, wind speed, and tidal current speeds.