Energy Security - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:37 pm on 5 December 2022.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 7:37, 5 December 2022

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, for their questions. I will start with nuclear, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and Labour for their support for it. The noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, and the Liberal Democrats are absolutely wrong on this. The idea that we can satisfy all of our baseload capacity from a little bit of pumped hydro storage, a few batteries and a bit of hydrogen is nonsensical, I am afraid. If the Liberal Democrats are serious about ever being in government, they need to seriously address these issues of how to provide long-term energy security. I am afraid that, at the moment, nuclear is the only carbon-free option that will do so at scale. The option that the noble Baroness talks about produces puny amounts of power.

In the British Energy Security Strategy, we provided a clear, long-term plan to accelerate our energy transition towards net zero and away from fossil fuel prices set by global markets beyond our control, and we are making serious progress towards that. We have more offshore wind than the rest of Europe put together; we have the second-largest offshore wind sector in the world, and the contracts for difference scheme has made a massive difference. I get that the Opposition think we should go even further and even faster, and we are expanding our ambition, but the turbines are being rolled out at a rate of many hundreds a year, and there are a number of supply chain limits. I assure the noble Lord that we will continue to roll them out because, at the moment, it is the cheapest form of generation—albeit intermittent, and we therefore need to provide back-up power for it.

That is why the investment in nuclear was announced. We are confirming the first state backing for a nuclear project in over 30 years, with a £679 million investment to support the UK on our journey to greater energy freedom. We are taking a 50% stake in the project’s development, with EDF. Sizewell C is set to generate reliable and clean homegrown electricity for 6 million UK homes, but it will of course also deliver thousands of high-value jobs in East Anglia and nationwide. We are also working hard to set up Great British Nuclear with support from the industry and our expert adviser, Simon Bowen. Great British Nuclear will aim to develop a resilient pipeline of new-build projects, supporting them through every stage of development. There are a number of exciting developments, such as small modular reactors, which will come on stream in a few years’ time.