Solar Households: Smart Export Guarantee

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

When his Department plans to publish its smart export guarantee proposals for new solar households.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

The smart export guarantee will pave the way to a smarter, more flexible energy system and ensure small-scale low-carbon generators are paid for the electricity they export to the grid. Yesterday, we published a consultation on the SEG draft licence conditions. We intend to start the legislative process for the smart export guarantee before the summer recess. There are already encouraging signals from the market and suppliers are beginning to voluntarily offer smart export tariffs.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

I think a lot of people in the sector will feel that the delay is not acceptable. Does the Minister agree that the Government must mandate a fair minimum floor price to prevent suppliers from taking advantage of solar households and other small-scale solar generators? The energy price cap is there to ensure suppliers sell power at a fair price. We need a similar mechanism to ensure they purchase at a fair price, too.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

That will be part of the consultation. We will set out our final proposals for the guarantee as soon as possible—as I said, before the summer recess. In the meantime, the right signals are already emerging. Energy suppliers are voluntarily bringing forward smart export tariffs.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

As we have heard, rather than publish a smart export guarantee that actually works, the Tories plan to further stifle the industry by hiking VAT on solar. Is it not time that the Minister’s Government stopped the Tory war on renewables and started taking climate change seriously by following the leadership of Scotland’s First Minister and declaring a climate emergency?

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

The hon. Gentleman fails to mention the success story that is solar photovoltaic. Over the past eight years since May 2010, under the coalition Government and this Government, 99% of capacity has been deployed. That is 49% of the total investment in the EU. We have installed more than twice as much solar capacity as any other European country—more than Germany, France and Australia combined. That is something he should welcome rather than talk down.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The Minister has his head in the sand over climate change. Last week, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee concluded that the UK could not credibly adopt a net zero emissions target without greater investment in new technologies. If the Tories will not act, when will they devolve the powers to Scotland, so the Scottish Government can show them how to do it?

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

On the net zero target, we will obviously wait on the Committee on Climate Change report, which will be published on Thursday 2 May. I am sure the hon. Gentleman welcomes the Government’s success story on solar capacity and renewables. In comparison with the early 1990s, emissions have come down by 40% while the economy grew by 72%. There is more to do—there will always be more to do—but we are on the right track and doing the right thing. Solar capacity has reached 30 GW, compared to an estimate of 10 GW to 12 GW. We continue to ensure we exceed our targets.