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Renewable Energy Technology Manufacturing (West Midlands)

Volume 552: debated on Thursday 1 November 2012

13. What steps the Government are taking to stimulate the manufacturing of renewable energy technology in the west midlands. (126051)

We have recently set out support levels under the renewables obligation until 2017 and expect that the support will bring forward £20 billion to £25 billion of new investment in that period.

The energy Bill, the landmark measure to which I refer once again, will transform the electricity market, delivering a diverse energy supply and simultaneously stimulating the economy by bolstering jobs and skills.

I remind the Minister that Coventry and the west midlands have a strong history of manufacturing and the potential to be at the forefront of developing and producing green technology. What are the Government doing to ensure that the region can develop the skills required and get the financial support to create the capacity to become a major manufacturer of renewable energy?

I know of the hon. Gentleman’s commitment to manufacturing, not only during his time as a Parliamentary Private Secretary but in the work he has done in his constituency and more widely, particularly in the automotive sector.

Just yesterday, I was in discussion with colleagues at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills about this precise matter of ensuring an adequate supply of training and skills to meet the demand of the energy sector. There is more to be done, but it will be achieved best by the expression of that demand in stimulating the right kind of supply—from trainers, further education, higher education and elsewhere. It is about not just new entrants, but upskilling and reskilling too.

We are getting a very full insight into the Minister’s working week, for which I am sure we are all extremely grateful.

Alstom, a major Stafford manufacturer, has just announced a welcome investment in tidal energy. Will the Minister please update us on the potential for tidal energy and associated manufacturing in the UK?

My hon. Friend will know that I am profoundly interested in renewable technologies that deliver. Tidal energy has immense potential. We have already committed resources to the work being done to get it to a scale on which it could be commercially viable. What my hon. Friend points to in his constituency, backed by his personal support, can only assist us in that practice.