Energy Security - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:57 pm on 5 December 2022.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Conservative 7:57, 5 December 2022

My Lords, there is much to welcome in this very important Statement. It shows real momentum in this area, which has been lacking in the past. I will ask the Minister two questions. First, the whole of Europe is covered by an intricate and balanced system of electricity interconnectors. Can we be assured that there is no question of undermining that in pushing for the greater degree of energy security which the Statement calls for, because that will be sorely and continuously needed?

Secondly, would he care to chance his arm and offer even an estimate of when Sizewell C might be operational, if it is authorised from now? I declare an interest as being involved in the instigation of Sizewell B. That took 15 years to get going, from the authorisation to the actual production of commercial electricity. The idea is that Sizewell C is going to be a replica of Hinkley Point C. As we all know, Hinkley Point C is not without its problems, and the EPR model on which it is built is certainly full of problems. At every point where it has been tried and tested, not one EPR has yet existed which has not run into major problems. There are those who say that a set of small modular reactors would be ready much earlier on a Sizewell C site than sticking to the large-scale EPR Hinkley model. Could the Minister comment on that? There is very strong opinion that, if we want low-carbon electricity within the lifetimes of most people now alive, we are going to need that rather more quickly than these huge large-scale projects can achieve or have achieved in the past.