Decarbonising our economy is both an environmental imperative and a huge opportunity for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The move away from fossil fuels requires massive investment in new global industries, from floating offshore wind to electric vehicles and battery storage. Investment will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs in the UK, benefitting the economy.
For Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the scale of opportunity in the race to net zero cannot be overstated. Our location at the tip of South West of the UK and our geology gives us an abundance of resources to power the Green Industrial Revolution, underpinned by generations of innovation and enterprise.
In fact, there are few regions where so many investment opportunities come together in one place.
We have world-class deposits of technology metals – like lithium, tin and copper – that are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies, from wind turbines to electric cars. Demand for lithium could grow by 500% by 2050 because of its use in batteries, but the UK is totally reliant on imports.
Cornwall sits on top of one of just five lithium-enriched bodies of granite in the world. The UK Government’s security and defence review highlights domestic extraction and processing of this ‘critical mineral’ as a priority. Several companies are currently prospecting for lithium in Cornwall, confident they can extract battery-grade lithium compounds from granite and the geothermal brines deep underground in a low-carbon, sustainable way. And it is why we are funding a lithium extraction pilot plant with investment from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.
Floating offshore wind
The seas off Cornwall boast one of the best wind climates in Europe and our region is the birthplace of commercial wind generation in the UK. The Government sees floating offshore wind (FLOW) as key to decarbonising energy supply and wants to see 40GW of installed capacity by 2030, including 1GW of FLOW. We’ve been developing our floating wind ambitions in Cornwall for several
years because of our proximity to the Celtic Sea and highly experienced offshore renewable energy supply chain.
The Celtic Sea is one of only two places in the UK singled out by the Government’s Net Zero Strategy for large-scale FLOW deployment. Some 300MW of projects are already moving forward, with a 30–40MW demonstrator expected to be on site by 2025. Our target of 3GW of installed capacity could support more than 11,000 jobs and generate £900 million of net additional GVA.
Space and data
Significant investment in Cornwall’s space economy is creating unique assets that will be critical to delivering the Government’s National Space Strategy.
This includes the launch of the first ever satellite from the UK in 2022 from Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay. More than half of the critical measurements on climate change rely on satellite data, and Cornwall will give the UK its own launch capability. And through the recent upgrading of Goonhilly Earth Station, there is capacity to track and control spacecraft, take measurements and analyse data as part of a global industry that could be worth £490 billion by 2030.
Both these assets have benefitted from more than £10 million of investment that we have secured through the Government’s Local Growth Fund and Getting Building Fund.
Cornwall is tackling climate change in other ways too. We are pioneering commercial deep geothermal energy on two pilot sites, with many more to follow. Our agriculture sector is developing energy-rich, renewable biofuels. And our communities are working with industry to trial local energy networks and electric car share schemes.
In all these areas, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has championed our region as a pioneer of a cleaner, greener future that creates quality jobs and gives us a globally competitive edge. World leaders at COP26 have seen that they must go further and faster to meet the climate emergency head on. We’ve accepted that challenge and are ready to lead the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution.
Find out more about how Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is leading the green industrial revolution in the prospectus below, and watch the summary film.