Centrica builds smart-grid wind turbine in Cornwall
February 11, 2020
UK energy company Centrica has started work on Cornwall’s first smart grid-connected wind turbine, which will power the equivalent of around 1100 homes and help cut carbon emissions.
The 2.3MW turbine will be sited on Cornwall Council land at Ventonteague, near Carland Cross, and is the first to be built in Cornwall since 2016. It will generate enough renewable electricity to reduce Cornwall’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2800 tonnes a year over the next two decades.
The smart grid-connected turbine should help Cornwall better manage its energy supply and power the equivalent of around 1100 Cornish homes, representing a significant contribution towards the council’s climate emergency agenda.
Transforming the energy sector is an essential part of Cornwall Council’s response to tackling the climate emergency as Cornwall now generates around 37% of electricity from renewables, up from around 6% in 2009.
Award-winning initiatives such as the Green Cornwall programme have driven forward major changes promoting community and council-owned renewable energy projects and developing potential new forms of power in technologies such as deep geothermal.
The new wind turbine is part of an EU-funded trial and forms part of the Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) which aims to help increase the amount of renewable energy that can be deployed by managing the electricity network more efficiently.
Launched in December 2016, the LEM project is receiving £11.5m support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is a collaboration between Centrica, Western Power Distribution, N-Side, Imperial College, University of Exeter and National Grid.
The project brings Cornish homes and businesses together via a fully automated online flexible energy market platform. The platform allows network operators, the organisations that run electricity distribution and transmission networks, to improve the way the grid works by buying energy flexibility from local homes and businesses, helping to balance both grid demand and capacity. The LEM is now in live trials, which are set to continue until March.
"Although Cornwall is already home to a large number of renewable energy assets, these wind and battery storage projects demonstrate a new era of decentralised, renewable energy,” said Dan Nicholls, LEM programme manager for Centrica. “They form part of a suite of renewable and flexible technologies being delivered by Centrica, which will subsequently be connected to the new virtual market place. This partnership between Centrica and Cornwall Council is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work together to help tackle climate change."
Cornwall Council will own and operate the turbine, once constructed, with Centrica responsible for constructing and commissioning the infrastructure that will connect the turbine to the grid and the LEM. Construction work is underway with the turbine expected to be operational this summer.
The site is less than a kilometre from the existing 20MW Carland Cross wind farm.
The LEM is also about to install one of Cornwall’s largest battery storage units on premises owned by Wave Hub in Hayle. The 1MW battery will provide energy resilience to the Wave Hub site and the local grid. Wave Hub, which is solely owned by Cornwall Council, will own the battery storage system once in place, with Centrica responsible for the funding, construction and operation.
Wave Hub exists to help wave energy technologies and offshore wind developers from around the world test in open sea conditions and provides some of the best conditions in Europe.
Cornwall Council has a track record in championing clean energy through the Green Cornwall Programme, which has delivered energy efficiency improvements in more than 3000 homes, the UK’s first collective energy saving in excess of £500,000 for Cornish residents and England’s first community energy revolving loan fund.
It is a key investor in two, pioneering geothermal heat and power projects at the Eden Project and at United Downs near Redruth and it was also the first local authority to develop its own solar farm.
"The 2.3MW of renewable energy to be generated from this new wind turbine will not only supply energy to the equivalent of more than 1100 Cornish homes but also count towards Cornwall’s ambitious plans to be carbon neutral by 2030,” said Edwina Hannaford, cabinet member for climate change and neighbourhoods. “In addition it will be a testbed for our smart-grid concept and demonstrates how our LEM can make the best use of all renewable energies in Cornwall and help businesses as well. This initiative on Cornwall Council-owned land is part of a suite of initiatives including investment into the United Downs and Eden Project geothermal power projects."