AMBITIONS to make Cornwall a leader in clean energy have received a boost with a £4.5-million investment.

The strategic investment from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme, which is managed by Cornwall Council and funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund, will accelerate Cornwall’s goal to maximise the opportunities for floating offshore wind (FLOW) generation in the Celtic Sea and establish the region as a key player in the UK’s transition to clean energy in the pursuit of net zero.

It will also complement other marine-related Good Growth Programme investments including £2-million towards future green skills and a £973,000 study to assess potential opportunities at Falmouth Docks.  

Council leader Linda Taylor said: “We are committed to a sustainable future and to Cornwall’s net zero journey which is why we are making targeted Good Growth investments in high value and high growth sectors. Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) has the potential to be a once in a generation opportunity for Cornwall in terms of supply chain, renewable energy, job opportunities and economic growth.

“We are strategically located for FLOW in the Celtic Sea and welcome the opportunities that it can bring for our residents in terms of job opportunities, economic growth and our sustainable future.”

FLOW has rapidly emerged as essential to the UK’s plans to decarbonise the energy supply - with floating turbine platforms which will be positioned in the Celtic Sea between Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, and out to Ireland. This is why the formation of the Cornwall FLOW Commission was a key element of the Level 2 Devolution Deal secured by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet last November.

The Crown Estate has set out areas of sea where the first 4.5GW of FLOW will be deployed by 2035. This represents enough electricity to power more than three million homes, with a stated ambition for a further 12GW by 2045. 

Supporting the construction and operation of Celtic Sea FLOW could provide a significant economic boost for the region, creating thousands of jobs. The resultant energy could play a major role in decarbonising existing industries by providing an abundance of clean, green electricity.

It could also provide green energy at lower cost to industries with the potential to play a vital role in the UK’s energy transition, including Cornwall’s emerging tech metals and mining sector, itself the subject of a strategic Good Growth Programme investment in January 2024.

The Good Growth investment will support five key projects to develop and put in place the infrastructure for the emerging industry, including a £3.2-million project to refurbish Penzance Dry Dock.

This will protect this important marine engineering asset for Cornwall, retaining high-value skills and jobs and developing capacity within a key piece of supply-chain infrastructure to meet the demands of the FLOW sector. 

The Good Growth Programme is investing £2.02-million in the project which will refit the site – first established in 1815 – with modern equipment, improve the efficiency of existing infrastructure and see associated investment in an in-house skills and training centre – the Penzance Dry Dock Skills Academy.

Penzance Dry Dock – which in its heyday as Holman’s shipyard employed more than 200 people – has exciting ambitions to become an engineering powerhouse once again. It is growing out of primarily ship repair activity to support multiple areas of the market including shipbuilding, mass fabrication and training and skill development.

With Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (CIOS) poised for large-scale development in the Celtic Sea, The Cornwall FLOW Commission (CFC) will have a strategic sector development role, focused on driving CIOS’s readiness to maximise the benefits of a once-in-a-generation levelling up opportunity of a £19-billion industry on its doorstep.

The £1.26-million project being led by Celtic Sea Power is being supported with £1-million of investment from the Good Growth Programme. The project’s wide-ranging remit will include the formal establishment of the Cornwall FLOW Commission, working towards the development of a streamlined consenting regime for offshore development and playing a key role in planning for necessary electricity grid upgrades to be implemented in Cornwall. Key infrastructure investment planning, workforce and skills development and building supply chain capacity are also among its objectives.

Based in Falmouth, TUGDOCK has pioneered a patented modular floating drydock technology designed to revolutionise floating offshore wind operations. The Good Growth Programme is investing £932,859 into a £1.33-million project to develop a cutting-edge manufacturing facility and a dedicated R&D engineering workspace for TUGDOCK in Cornwall. This will enable in-house production and increased productivity, accelerating the company’s global growth.

TUGDOCK is seen as a key enabling supply chain company that will accelerate the development of the floating offshore wind industry. It has already formed strategic partnerships with many leading offshore renewable energy development companies around the world and its technology has been deployed at France’s first floating wind farm. 

The new R&D workspace will focus on advancing TUGDOCK’s technology, exploring sustainable materials and automation processes, and fostering collaborations with academic institutions to stay at the forefront of clean maritime innovation. The project will create a range of high-skilled jobs in Cornwall, promoting long-term economic growth in the region. 

The Falmouth Port Development – FLOW marshalling area is a £1-million project supported by a £502,500 investment by the Good Growth Programme to create quayside laydown facilities for the Floating Offshore Wind sector. Part-funded by A&P Falmouth, it will create approximately 30,000m2 of laydown space at Falmouth Docks between the County and Duchy Wharfs for the growing FLOW market.

It aims to ensure Falmouth Docks can meet the timeline for the first developer (Twin Hub) to be on site in the Celtic Sea and generating renewable energy by 2027. FLOW developers need sites at ports with substantial laydown space for marshalling components near large quaysides to allow access for jack-up and other construction vessels. The project will see the demolition of approximately 10,000m2 of unused sheds and the space created has been modelled with FLOW developers to ensure it is fit for purpose.

This critical piece of infrastructure will ensure the Port of Falmouth remains a strategically important economic asset for Falmouth and Cornwall including locally based FLOW assembly, maintenance and operations facilities as well as the wider supply chain benefits across local companies.

The University of Plymouth is leading a feasibility study into the potential development of the Celtic Offshore Mooring and Anchoring R&D Centre (COMAC), which is being supported by a £100,000 investment by the Good Growth Programme. The centre, which would be created in Cornwall, would play a critical role in the projected expansion of floating offshore wind technologies off the South West of England.

The feasibility study, scheduled for completion in March 2025, is being led by Professor Lars Johanning from the University’s Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy, working in partnership with Reflex Marine Ltd, Celtic Sea Power and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. The University is home to a number of the UK’s leading offshore renewable energy experts and facilities.

It will develop the business case for the new COMAC centre, identify potential sites and any planning constraints, and outline how it could be delivered effectively. And it will examine how the facility could support local FLOW businesses to develop new products and technologies, and create high valuable jobs in the area.

The £4.55-million total investment in supporting Cornwall’s clean energy sector by the Good Growth Programme is funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF). Cornwall has been allocated £132-million of SPF funding over three years with investment decisions taken at local level and with a focus on green and inclusive growth.