It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans, and I apologise for my late arrival to the debate. I congratulate Helen Goodman on securing this debate. I was lucky enough to secure an Adjournment debate on geothermal injury in my constituency in Clackmannanshire a few weeks ago on
Geothermal is a fantastic opportunity and, as we have heard from different Members today, it could breathe new life into areas that have been without a key industry and key employment opportunities for a long time. It is important that as part of the industrial strategy, which looks at the entire United Kingdom, we use the powers in this place—energy is of course reserved—to make sure that every part of the United Kingdom benefits from geothermal initiatives and that the United Kingdom remains a leader in renewable energy and shows the way, as we have in other areas, such as wind. As I said in that earlier debate, there are a number of international partners and friendly countries that are already far ahead of us, such as El Salvador and Costa Rica, which already bring in 15% of their energy from geothermal sources. We are leading the way on wind and we want to lead the way on geothermal too.
Energy is a reserved function. Jim Shannon, who is now not in his place, mentioned the district heating fund—obviously heating is devolved in different parts of the United Kingdom, and that is £300 million. I hope the Minister and the Treasury could apply a little flexibility on how that fund is applied for, especially when it is linking to geothermal energy projects across the United Kingdom, so that all parts of the United Kingdom can benefit.
My Adjournment debate was very much about Clackmannanshire, an important part of my constituency. It has a long history of mining and milling. We have mines filled with water that is sitting at around 40° C. Geothermal energy enables us to use technology to tap some of that warm water to help with heating and to generate power. That could help not only build new homes, but slash energy bills. In my constituency, in Clackmannanshire, about one in three suffer from fuel poverty. Introducing a new form of energy could help tackle that, as well as slashing up to 50% off the energy bills of the local council. As we know, every council in the country faces funding challenges and that would be very welcome.
Geothermal is not a total solution, but it is an important part of our future energy mix. The leadership that the Government have shown through the industrial strategy highlights the fantastic opportunity we have. We have grasped that with both hands with wind, but we can lead in geothermal energy throughout the United Kingdom. I hope that through this debate and the Minister’s support we will be able to move that agenda forward and deliver for our constituents.