Cornwall's massive growth in solar panels
Cornwall Council's new clean energy targets could see eight square miles of land covered in solar panels.
The Duchy is also set for the construction of up to 220 large wind turbines over the next 18 years, according to fresh targets to be put before councillors next week.
The authority has proposed that 1,427 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity can be generated by 2030 – this compares to a figure of 93MW between 2004 and 2010.
Officials have for the first time quantified the land needed to install solar photo-voltaic panels, setting a target of 0.6% of the land mass of the peninsula – equivalent to 5,120 acres.
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Countryside campaigners have branded the use of prime farm land irresponsible but green campaigners say more must be done to hit tough carbon emissions targets.
Mike Bruton, a co-founder of campaign group Cornwall Protect, said so many solar panels could have a "horrendous impact" unless they were confined to industrial and brown field sites.
"Cornwall's second biggest earner is tourism and people don't want to come and see an industrial landscape," he added.
"I support solar panels at places like Newquay airport and they can stick them on the roof of every B&Q but not on usable agricultural land – that would be pretty irresponsible." Regen SW, the agency campaigning for clean energy generation said 12% of Cornwall's electricity use is provided by Cornish renewables, equivalent to powering 58,500 homes.
And Merlin Hyman, its chief executive, said "ambitious" plans were needed if the UK is to meet its target of producing 15% of energy through renewables by 2020.
He said there would naturally be a debate about the figures but broadly welcomed the strategy.
He added: "It is fair to say that if we are going to meet the UK targets we are going to have to increase targets in Cornwall, which is blessed with great natural resources."
The renewable energy targets will be included in the Cornwall Local Plan – a document which sets out priorities such as house-building targets up until 2030.
Some councillors claim the surface area required for solar is equivalent to the land required by the planned 49,000 new homes.
The current draft of the Local Plan proposes 987MW from photo-voltaic panels and 402MW from onshore wind.
Some 244MW of solar electricity will be generated on existing rooftops and 743MW would be ground-mounted.
The council said a preferred target of 825MW of electricity, had been revised in light of "increased understanding of the potential of technologies such as solar PV".
Julian German, the former cabinet member for renewable energy, said the 1,427MW target figure had been "around for some time".
"I am happy to support the target," he added.
"We need to be cognisant of Ofgem's warning about energy blackouts in 2015, particularly in Cornwall, which is at the end of the line."