Energy White Paper

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 5:16 pm, 14th December 2020

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. Clearly, we welcome any sensible proposals for the transition to net zero and value for consumers, and we will support policies accordingly. The White Paper is a year and a half late. Much of it is wishlists and it still has the same outdated nuclear obsession. For existing nuclear waste, there is a £132 billion bill. For Hinkley Point, it is £20 billion. To add to that £150 billion, we have Sizewell C, which is £20 billion, and Bradwell to follow, which is £20 billion. Despite market failure, the Government have not given up on Wylfa, Oldbury and Moorside, so that is potentially another £50 billion. Small modular reactors, advanced reactors and nuclear fission mean further blank cheques. We cannot be serious about energy bills and value for money when it all comes to 35-year nuclear contracts. Compare that with the commitment in the White Paper of just £50 million to upgrade properties to EPC band C.

What cost-benefit analysis has been done on the cost of nuclear jobs versus renewables? What is the Secretary of State doing about a route to market for pumped hydro? In Scotland, the Cruachan extension and the proposed Coire Glas scheme could be undertaken if the Government showed the same commitment to pumped hydro as they have nuclear. Can he confirm the route to market for tidal and wave energies, which he touched on earlier, and a contract for difference for hydrogen production? These processes, along with carbon capture and storage, are the chance to be world-leading and create green jobs, if they get a move on.

How will the Secretary of State ensure transparency for CCS site selections? Surely Peterhead, with its hydrogen proposals and existing carbon dioxide storage licence, has to be first in the batch. Can he confirm that it is under consideration, because it is not showing in the map in the White Paper? Sadly today, BiFab went into administration, with its yard in Tayside closing, which is proof of the failure to date of the CfD procurement process. Will the Secretary of State apologise for that and make sure that, following the consultation on procurement, this is remedied for the next auction process and that we get these jobs delivered in the UK?

There is so much in the White Paper—the future homes standard, the hydrogen strategy, heating buildings, decarbonisation, heat pump delivery—that is going to be consulted on from next year onwards. How can the Secretary of State make sure that these all come together and are delivered in time for the interim target of 2030? Finally, I welcome confirmation of the emissions trading system agreed with the devolved nations, and will he confirm that the carbon emissions tax alternative is now dead in the water?