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Green Energy Generation

Volume 455: debated on Tuesday 23 January 2007

6. What steps are being taken to expand the use of green energy generation from wave and tidal sources in Scotland. (116347)

Since 1999 the Government have committed £29 million to the research and development of marine energy technologies. In addition, we have created the marine renewable deployment fund with a further £50 million allocated to help projects move from the research stage to demonstration. Moreover, we have invested in infrastructure. That investment includes £15 million for the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, a dedicated test facility for wave and tidal technology developers.

Given the Government’s intention to introduce a climate change Bill, has the Secretary of State considered the impact that the Bill will have on the Scottish Executive’s approach to the environment?

In the normal course of events, we discuss such matters with the Scottish Executive. However, it is entirely consistent to recognise in statute—as the Bill will—the considerable change described in the Stern report and other academic studies of the science of climate change.

I pay tribute to the labour-led Executive in Scotland. They have taken a pioneering role, particularly in relation to renewables, and recognise not just the challenge but the responsibility to develop such technologies in the years ahead.

The Secretary of State will be aware of the immense potential for tidal energy in the Pentland firth and, indeed, other remoter areas off the coast of Scotland. Is he also aware that one of the potential barriers is the lack of transmission capacity? Does he agree with the many experts who now believe that an undersea interconnector would be a more effective way of reducing the lack of transmission than pylons?

A number of technical challenges will need to be overcome in what is still, at this stage, a relatively immature technology. The main challenge is to move that technology forward. I assure the hon. Gentleman that all such matters are given due consideration. They have been dealt with in discussions that I understand he has had with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, and also in other discussions that take place in Government, particularly with the Department of Trade and Industry.

Would not the most important help be not requiring energy producers to pay £20 per kWh to connect to the national grid, as opposed to the subsidy of £8 per kWh that is provided in London?

The suggestion that greater connections to the English market somehow make sense is certainly an interesting line of argument coming from a nationalist, given that the nationalists seem intent on putting up new barriers.