Energy Supplies

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 24th March 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Conservative, Hereford and South Herefordshire 10:30 am, 24th March 2011

What recent steps he has taken to ensure security of energy supplies in response to the political situation in the middle east.

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

The UK has diverse sources of oil and gas, including our own substantial North sea production. Political unrest in the middle east has not led to any oil or gas shortages so far. My Department has been in close contact with the International Energy Agency and International Energy Forum partners, and Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries members. Saudi Arabia has said it will make up any shortfall through increased oil production. The IEA has confirmed its readiness to use emergency stocks, if required.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Conservative, Hereford and South Herefordshire

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. Microgeneration is a key part of our future energy security. What impact does my right hon. Friend expect his Department’s decisions on feed-in tariffs to have on the number of home owners able to generate their own electricity?

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

I expect the decisions we are taking on feed-in tariffs to ensure a steady and sustained growth in the industry, which will protect householders, who are completely unaffected by the review, in respect of any amount below 50 kW. As the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my hon. Friend Gregory Barker pointed out, that amounts to two tennis courts and it is absolutely unaffected. We therefore expect that the number of households generating their own electricity will rise.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

The Secretary of State surely knows that solar is a very important part of future energy security in our country. The recent decision to backtrack on solar means that community groups that were going to make a real contribution now feel deserted. Their banks have deserted them, so this sort of solar initiative will no longer go ahead.

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has taken up this issue. Let me be clear that the decisions we took were designed to ensure sustainable and strong growth in the solar industry. That is absolutely key. We are precisely trying to avoid boom and bust in this sector. If it had gone on growing, the large-scale plants would have gobbled up all the money available for small-scale plants. That would have meant slamming on the brakes, after which there would have been a much greater threat to the industry. We are going to have sustainable growth, which is as it should be.

Photo of Peter Tapsell Peter Tapsell Father of the House of Commons

May I put it to the Minister that in the current dangerous and complex circumstances the most important key to the preservation of oil supplies is that Bahrain should remain in friendly hands, and that from the British point of view it is strategically far more important than Libya?

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

The hon. Gentleman has made an interesting and important point. Bahrain is a long-standing friend of this country. We have watched with interest over the years as it has increasingly experimented with becoming a more open society, and it is very regrettable that that process is where it is. I note what my hon. Friend has said, and we are watching the situation closely.