Cornwall’s first smart-grid enabled wind turbine

Transforming the energy sector is part of Cornwall Council’s response to tackling the climate emergency and helping Cornwall become carbon neutral by 2030.


As part of our work to cut carbon emissions and increase renewable energy in Cornwall, we have installed a new smart-grid enabled wind turbine in partnership with Centrica that will create enough green energy to power over 1,440 Cornish homes a year.

The challenge

Transforming the energy sector is part of Cornwall Council’s response to tackling the climate emergency and helping Cornwall become carbon neutral by 2030. Around 40 per cent of Cornwall’s electricity now comes from renewable sources, but we’ve pledged to work towards 100 per cent clean energy in order to achieve our overall target. However, like many areas of the UK the electricity grid needs to adapt to incorporate the amount of renewable energy generated across the region which created a barrier to the amount that can be deployed.

The solution

In 2017 Cornwall Council pledged to work towards 100 per cent clean energy for Cornwall as part of plans to tackle the climate emergency and secure an environmentally sustainable future.

The council has invested £3 million into Cornwall’s first smart grid enabled wind turbine that it will own and operate - and receive income from the electricity generated. Centrica has contributed £1 million and was responsible for constructing and commissioning the infrastructure, connecting the turbine to the grid and their Local Energy Market project. The wind turbine began generating energy in September 2020. 

Part of an EU-funded trial, the turbine generates electricity and contributes of Centrica's innovative Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) which helps to increase the amount of renewable energy that can be deployed by managing the electricity network more efficiently. The LEM project has been running since 2016 and received £11.5 million support from the European Regional Development Fund. It’s a collaboration between Centrica, Western Power Distribution (WPD), N-SIDE, Imperial College, the University of Exeter and National Grid.

The Local Energy Market project brings Cornish homes and businesses together via a fully automated online flexible energy market platform. It allows network operators to improve the way the grid works by buying energy flexibility from local homes and businesses - helping to balance grid demand and capacity.

The impact

The smart grid-connected turbine will help Cornwall better manage its energy supply and reduce Cornwall’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3,300 tonnes a year, over the next two decades. It’ll generate enough green energy to power over 1,440 Cornish homes a year and provide a return to the council that will support service delivery.

This turbine will be the first in the UK to demonstrate the concept of making small adjustments to the output, in order to help smooth peaks and troughs in electricity supply and demand on the grid; allowing us to rely more heavily on zero-carbon sources of energy. 

Lessons learned 

The project demonstrated the opportunities to work in partnership with other organisations to overcome some of the barriers, such as grid capacity, that has previously halted the delivery of renewable energy projects in Cornwall.

The turbine will also be an important testbed for Centrica’s smart-grid concept and help demonstrate how a local energy market can make better use of renewable energy generated in Cornwall and help deliver our carbon neutral ambitions.

Contact

Mark Holmes, mark.holmes@cornwall.gov.uk 

Links to relevant documents