New Low-Carbon Technologies

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 11:33 am on 7th June 2022.

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Photo of David Johnston David Johnston Conservative, Wantage 11:33 am, 7th June 2022

What steps he is taking to support new low-carbon technologies.

Photo of Chris Clarkson Chris Clarkson Conservative, Heywood and Middleton

What steps he is taking to support new low-carbon technologies.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

What steps he is taking to support new low-carbon technologies.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Clean energy technologies are fundamental in both securing our energy supply and meeting net zero. This Conservative Government have set out their ambition to invest up to £22 billion in research and development by 2024. Meanwhile, we are moving to annual options for renewable energy and investing big in our nuclear future.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston Conservative, Wantage

In recent months, I have had a number of emails from constituents who have taken the Government’s encouragement to look at getting a heat pump, but have found the cost just too high for them. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to help bring down the cost of heat pumps so that they are more affordable for more people?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We want to go with the grain of human nature, which means that, when it is time to replace a gas boiler, the heat pump is a competitive option in terms of price. That is why we think the cost of heat pumps can reduce by 25% to 50% by 2025. We have our £450 million boiler upgrade scheme to provide capital grants of up to £6,000, and that is in addition to the zero per cent rate of VAT on installation.

Photo of Chris Clarkson Chris Clarkson Conservative, Heywood and Middleton

As we transition away from gas, hydrogen—in particular green hydrogen generated by renewable sources such as that at Scout Moor wind farm in my Heywood and Middleton constituency—gives the UK the unique opportunity to become an exporter of energy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is good not just for our economy and energy security, but for communities such as Heywood and Middleton where it will create new and exciting jobs?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend is a doughty champion for his constituency and for the hydrogen sector. I was at the global hydrogen summit about three weeks ago where exactly the possibility of hydrogen exports was very much the topic of the day. That is why we have doubled the ambition in our British energy security strategy to go to 10 GW of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030, which will provide fantastic opportunities right the way across the country, notably in his constituency as well.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

I am very keen to help the Government find viable paths to net zero, which is why I took a meeting with a firm that has developed a route to continuous power from tidal basins. Can I bring those people to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss how that solution, remarkable as it is, produces continuous, not intermittent, net zero power, so that he can learn more about what could be done?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I thank my hon. Friend for his continued interest in all matters relating to net zero. My door is always open to him, particularly in bringing innovative proposals on how we will get to net zero. He will know that the Government have invested more than £175 million in tidal energy projects in the past two decades and we have £20 million allocated in the current allocation round for the contracts for difference for tidal stream power.

Photo of Darren Jones Darren Jones Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Yesterday, a Treasury Minister was unable to confirm whether the climate compatibility checkpoint would be applied to the recent tax cut for the oil and gas industry investing in further drilling. Can the Minister today confirm whether that climate checkpoint will apply to existing investment decisions and not just future investment decisions after the checkpoint has been introduced?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said yesterday, that consultation on the climate compatibility checkpoint has closed and the Government will be responding to that consultation in due course.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

A recent Public Accounts Committee report on net zero highlighted the real challenge of getting consumers onboard. Going net zero and embracing low- carbon technologies cannot be a preserve of the wealthiest and there needs to be much more work by Government. What are the Government doing to ensure that consumers are supported to make green choices?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Lady raises some very good points. I am looking forward to appearing before the House of Lords Committee on this very topic on Thursday. I am sure that her Committee has done important work on this. We want to make this process as affordable as possible for people. That is why we have introduced the boiler upgrade scheme. That is why we are spending £6.6 billion of public money in this Parliament on energy efficiency, making sure that those options are there and are affordable. That is one of our key aims, particularly if we are to get to 600,000 heat pumps per annum by 2028.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

The Minister may know that our gas pipes are capable of taking 40% hydrogen, as they did with coal gas. Will he meet me and also Professor Andrew Barron who works at Swansea University, which is pushing forward technology to take the hydrogen produced by renewable wind farms off peak, converting it and putting it into the gas grid and therefore reducing the carbon footprint of boiling an egg by 40%. Surely that is the best way forward in the short term to reduce our carbon footprint.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman raises a good point. Late last year when I visited the Whitelee wind farm just south of Glasgow, the UK’s largest onshore wind farm and the second largest in Europe, I saw for myself the potential there for renewable energy to convert to hydrogen. The UK Government announced a facility to assist with that. Blending is also an important aspect that we will actively be looking at. Of course we will have a number of other important uses of hydrogen, notably in maritime, transportation and the decarbonisation of industry, and those are all in the frame for consideration for what will undoubtedly be our big need for hydrogen in the future.