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 Callanan Lord Callanan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 7:57, 5 December 2022

I thank my noble friend for his questions. I also thank him for welcoming me back to the Front Bench, although I was not aware that I had ever left it. Nevertheless, I am sure that his concern is well thought, and I thank him for that.

On SMRs, we are indeed continuing to support Rolls Royce; the figure is about £200 million-worth of support to accelerate the design of SMRs, because they will have a key role to play. My noble friend also asked me about hydrogen. We have a very advanced hydrogen strategy and will shortly be rolling out a business model. I can tell him that hydrogen for heating is not yet an established technology in its scalability. We have the ability to blend about 20% hydrogen into the current gas main, and in the Energy Bill, which we will shortly be considering, we are taking powers to conduct village-scale trials of hydrogen to check its feasibility for heating. I think it is more likely that the use of hydrogen will be in the sectors that are hard to decarbonise, such as steel or cement, or for really big, heavy, long-distance transport, such as locomotives or heavy goods vehicles.

My noble friend also makes a good point about the grid connections. As we seek to move the electricity system generally away from big nodes to a much more diversified system, clearly that requires an awful lot of new connections to be made. That is generally by pylons, but these can be extremely unpopular in various parts of the country. Nevertheless, that is something that we need to proceed with, but we need to try to do it in collaboration with local communities. Every offshore wind farm needs to be connected to shore and into the national grid to parts of the country that use the power. So there is a massive reconfiguring of the grid going on, with massive amounts of investment to bring that about. It is a project that will take many years to bring to fruition.