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Marine Renewables

Volume 520: debated on Thursday 16 December 2010

7. If he will make it his policy to provide long-term revenue support for renewables obligation certificates for marine renewable technology to ensure that developers and manufacturers locate themselves in the UK. (30969)

We are committed to the establishment of a system of feed-in tariffs in electricity as well as to the maintenance of banded renewables obligation certificates. We have already brought forward the scheduled review of the renewable obligation by a year to give investors greater clarity and confidence. As part of the electricity market reforms, we will set out plans for support for marine and other renewables for the longer term.

The Minister will be aware that I represent not only the best constituency but one of the most tidal, with several major rivers including the Ayr, the Ouse, the Trent and parts of the Humber. Does he agree that the Humber area generally has huge potential in terms of marine and tidal energy, and will he commit to supporting the pan-Humber vision of making the Humber a centre for renewable energy?

My hon. Friend raises an issue that applies to many parts of this country. The United Kingdom has some of the highest tidal reaches of anywhere in the world and it is our determination that we should lead in marine technologies rather than follow others. Undoubtedly, the Humber has a significant contribution to make in that respect. Many areas could contribute to that process, which is why we are putting in place a marine energy programme with a view to leading to marine energy parks where those technologies can be taken forward.

Is the Minister aware that about two months ago, the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker), met company and trade representatives in my constituency to discuss support for the renewable heat initiative, which I know the Secretary of State has also personally supported? We were expecting a statement last month, this month and now, I hope, in January. Will the Minister look into that and bring forward the statement? A lot of new work in Coventry and throughout the private sector depends on it.

I am not quite sure how renewable heat ties into marine and tidal technologies, Mr Speaker, unless it is very hot water indeed. We are working to bring that to a conclusion; we understand the pressure across the House for that clarity and we will provide it in the very near future.

Now that the wave hub plug is in place off the north coast of my constituency—a very exciting project that scales up for the first time wave energy—what will the Minister do to ensure that it is a great success? In Scotland, ROCs provide a far better return for projects. Will he work with me to ensure that this project is a great success and adds to renewable energy?

The project in Cornwall is one of two beacon facilities in the country, the other being in Orkney. That is exactly the approach that we want to take forward for marine energy parks, bringing together the relevant technological, academic and engineering skills that can encourage companies to stay in this country. We have been concerned that some companies have looked overseas to take their technologies forward and we have to put in place the right mechanisms to keep them here in the United Kingdom. Cornwall has a fantastic opportunity in that regard.