Energy: Renewable Technologies

– in the House of Lords at 2:37 pm on 22nd October 2007.

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Photo of Lord Beaumont of Whitley Lord Beaumont of Whitley Green 2:37 pm, 22nd October 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in developing renewable energy policies other than through the European Emissions Trading Scheme.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, the Government have made significant progress in developing renewable energy policies. As a result of policies outlined in the energy White Paper, the generation of renewable electricity in the UK is forecast to treble by 2015. The renewable transport fuel obligation aims at ensuring that biofuels comprise 5 per cent of total sales of road transport fuel by 2010. Once individual member states' contributions to the EU's 2020 target have been agreed, we will bring forward appropriate measures beyond those set out in the White Paper to make our contribution to meeting those targets.

Photo of Lord Beaumont of Whitley Lord Beaumont of Whitley Green

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, which was reasonably satisfactory. He will be aware that the DTI report on draft options on renewable energy cast some doubt on whether the Government would be able to achieve 20 per cent of energy supply from renewables by 2020. The report suggested using the European Emissions Trading Scheme or statistical manipulation to achieve this very challenging target. That seems a rather dubious way of achieving your targets. Would the Government care to expand on how we will actually get to it?

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, the noble Lord is right that the 2020 target is challenging. We recognise that we will require additional measures and possibly additional legislation in order to hit it. That is why we are preparing for the possibility of legislation for 2009 in good time for us to implement the measures necessary. At this stage, we have not determined the strategy for 2020. The House will recognise that we have quite enough on our plate to deal with the targets for 2010 and 2015. Although progress at present is encouraging, I do not think that the House would fail to recognise how challenging these targets are.

Photo of Lord Faulkner of Worcester Lord Faulkner of Worcester Labour

My Lords, will my noble friend ensure that the contribution that tidal power can make to the generation of electricity is taken fully into account? Is he aware that in the 100 square miles around the island of Alderney in the Channel Islands, there is reckoned to be enough tidal power to provide electricity equivalent to that of two Sizewell B power stations? Will he look at that experiment, which will start next year, and give every encouragement to the islanders to ensure that their electricity can be landed in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, the Government are certainly interested in tidal power and tidal barrages. That is why we are examining closely the concept of the Severn barrage scheme, which, if it proves to be successful and economic, could contribute as much as 5 per cent of UK electricity. The House will recognise that although we have had a favourable assessment by the Sustainable Development Commission on the feasibility of that scheme, which the Minister responded to positively in September, there is still a great deal to be done. I assure my noble friend that electricity suppliers will be keen to obtain their electricity from renewable sources, and if Alderney develops its tidal barrier scheme more rapidly than anywhere else and they can buy from Alderney, it will be up to the electricity companies to do so.

Photo of Lord Redesdale Lord Redesdale Spokesperson in the Lords (Agriculture & Energy), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

My Lords, the Minister said that to meet our renewables targets we have to develop things such as the Severn barrage. Does he agree that without massive government commitment behind this at a very early stage, there is no way that the Severn barrage will be built by 2020, especially if he is talking about looking at further studies into its viability?

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, the Government have to look at the economics of any potential strategy. The noble Lord will recognise that the Minister made absolutely clear that he very much welcomed the report which indicated that the technology was possible and that the Severn barrage scheme could make a very substantial contribution indeed. Of course examination of costs, the resources to be put into it and who should put in those resources, are all to be evaluated. The noble Lord will recognise that we had the report only in September, so it is a little premature for us to have cut and dried responses to his question at this stage.

Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative

My Lords, the Government are going to great lengths to introduce renewable energy as part of their campaign to combat global warming. Does the Minister agree with David Bellamy in the Times today that temperatures have not gone up since 1998?

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, I have not looked with scientific rigour at that contribution. The noble Lord will recognise that David Bellamy is a somewhat controversial figure in this debate, although an articulate and useful one in prodding everyone to examine their analyses. But there is no serious scientific position in the world that does not recognise that global warming is both a development and a threat to mankind.

Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour

My Lords, will my noble friend acknowledge that the economics of the Severn barrage have been transformed favourably in the past 10 to 15 years with a fall in the cost of long-term capital and a very significant increase in the price of energy? The project should be manageable with far less subsidy than might once have been contemplated.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, I welcome that contribution. The Government are indicating that there has been a step forward with regard to the Severn barrage development and therefore we are about the business of examining carefully the costs involved and the viability of this project. As I have indicated to the House, there is not the slightest doubt that if it proved to be economically viable it would be a very significant contributor of electricity. However, we had the report from the Sustainable Development Commission only on 25 September. The House will recognise that the Government need to draw breath before they can confirm that they will commit to this important development.