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Clean and Reliable Energy

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th November 2016.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Conservative, Charnwood 12:00 am, 8th November 2016

What steps his Department is taking to ensure the increased use of clean and reliable energy sources.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Government are committed to upgrading our energy infrastructure to make sure it is reliable, affordable and increasingly clean. The phasing out of coal and our commitment to new nuclear and new renewables through the next round of contract for difference auctions are key milestones in the energy transition that is under way.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Conservative, Charnwood

Tidal power represents one of the cleanest and most reliable types of green renewable energy. I am sorry to bring the Minister back to this topic, but may I again press him, due process notwithstanding, to make his decision on the future of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project as swiftly as possible?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his persistence in pressing this point. I have nothing to add to the bureaucratic prose that the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Jesse Norman, has placed so elegantly on the record. We will look at the matter seriously.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Chair, Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee, Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

The UK has slipped to 14th place in Ernst and Young’s renewable energy country attractiveness index. It is our lowest ever placing, behind the likes of Chile and Morocco. EY states that various Government actions, as well as Brexit,

“have dealt a blow to the country’s already floundering renewable energy sector and its attractiveness in the eyes of investors.”

I know that the Minister, who is committed to this issue, will be concerned about that. What steps are the Government actively taking and what steps will be taken soon to secure energy confidence and investment to ensure that this promising and vital sector can flourish?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

It is good to see the hon. Gentleman back safe and sound from his visit to Sports Direct.

I refute the point that the hon. Gentleman makes; it is worth recognising that the average annual investment in renewables has more than doubled in the past five years, with an average of £9 billion invested each year in UK-based renewables. We have made extraordinary strides in building renewable capacity in this country under this Government, and we expect to announce further steps shortly.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

Another source of clean renewable energy is geothermal and Cornwall is the best place in the country for its development. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the Government’s support for the development of geothermal in Cornwall, and—even better—will he come and visit?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I know my hon. Friend to be a great champion of his area and of innovation there. Cornwall has interesting assets in relation to geothermal. I have written to him, but I can place on record here that the answer is yes.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change)

On clean energy, we are close to the first anniversary of the announcement by the Secretary of State’s predecessor that all unabated coal generation would close by 2025 and that a consultation on that closure would be launched in spring 2016. As we can see, it is not spring any more, and no consultation appears to be in sight. Is that because the Department is reconsidering his predecessor’s commitment, or because the Department has not got around to writing the consultation yet?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman will not have to wait much longer for the answer to that question. The Government are committed to the transition from coal to clean energy. In fact, he will know that this year is the first in which we will generate more electricity from renewable energy than we do from coal.