Community Energy Plus News

Cornwall New Energy facilitates solar investment for Telegraph Museum Porthcurno


A member-owned renewable energy enterprise has helped one of Cornwall’s most historically significant sites to realise its ambitions for a greener future with lower energy bills. The Telegraph Museum Porthcurno expects to reduce its energy bills by around £3,500 a year thanks to the installations of PV systems on two of their buildings by the co-operative Community Power Cornwall.

The museum is based on what was originally the largest telegraph station in the world, connecting Britain to the whole world. Today, the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno is a vibrant and captivating heritage attraction which is operated by a small charity called the Porthcurno Collections Trust. The charity have held a long term ambition to increase the sustainability of the museum through the reduction of energy costs whilst significantly decreasing their impact on the environment.

Thanks to the European funded Cornwall New Energy project, the trust accessed help from the BRE National Solar Centre and the Cornish energy advice charity Community Energy Plus to assess the potential for renewable technologies on site and produce detailed financial projections and funding options, including a Power Purchase Agreement from Community Power Cornwall.

The 50kW and 17 kW solar PV systems will produce over 51,000 kW hours of clean green energy every year. This will save over 18 tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere, or 350 tonnes over the lifetime of the system. Between 80-90% of the electricity generated by the solar panels are expected to be consumed on site which will help the museum to be much more sustainable and resilient into the future.

Julia Twomlow, Museum Director explained the background to the project: “We take our land management responsibilities seriously and see the introduction of solar power to the museum buildings as being part of that initiative around environmental sustainability. Community Power Cornwall have enabled us to realise our ambitions to embrace green technology. Without their support we would have struggled to make the project happen. We anticipate that the PV will help us reduce our energy bills by around £3,500 a year which is a significant saving for a charity and money which we can invest back into our education programme, our exhibitions and the experiences that our visitors have with us.”

Community Power Cornwall have been active for 10 years developing renewable energy projects in local communities and the solar panels at Porthcurno are the co-operative’s 30th and 31st installations.

Neil Farrington, Director of Community Power Cornwall said: “This project has been extremely interesting but also challenging. The station is almost 150 years old and the fragile listed buildings created some challenges for our installers ZLC Energy who had to come up with some new design solutions to allow the PV system to float above the roof’s surface and ensure that no weight was transferred to the original concrete roof of the building. We were also working in a tight timeframe in order to access the Feed-in Tariff before the programme closed to new developments at the end of March so it was a big achievement to get the installations completed on time.”


Additional information

The Cornwall New Energy project has received funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

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Telegraph Museum Porthcurno
The tiny Cornish village of Porthcurno was once the heart of international telecommunications, boasting the largest telegraph station in the world. Today, the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno is a vibrant and captivating heritage attraction. Discover our World War II tunnels, which were the secret hub of Britain’s wartime communications; visit the Cable Hut where the UK’s network of underwater telecommunication cables came ashore; explore exhibitions and interactive displays telling the amazing story of global telecommunications. from the first practical use of electricity to how we communicate today using fibre optic cables that still run beneath the world’s seas and oceans.

The Telegraph Museum is unique amongst Cornwall’s heritage attractions and illustrates the crucial role Porthcurno and its residents played in the development of modern communications. In particular it tells the story of the people who came to train at the telegraph station, the friendships and romances they formed, the extraordinary lives they led as Cable & Wireless employees in far flung locations across the British Empire, and the vital role they played in defining the Allies’ strategy during World War II.

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno is owned by the PK Trust which is a registered educational charity no. 1062233.

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