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Energy Generation Sector

Volume 554: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2012

1. What recent discussions he has had with his ministerial colleagues on the prospects for the energy generation sector in Wales. (129633)

Before I answer the question, Mr Speaker, with your permission I would like to express my sympathy—and, I am sure, that of the whole House—for the victims of the flooding in north Wales and our thanks for the hard work of the emergency services. I propose to visit the affected area tomorrow.

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on the prospects for the energy generation sector in Wales, particularly in relation to the recent good news that Horizon Nuclear Power has been bought by Hitachi, helping to secure the future for new nuclear on Anglesey.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer and join him in paying tribute to our emergency services. On the specific issue of nuclear power, in my constituency of Pendle we have the excellent Graham Engineering, which is part of the nuclear supply chain and supports more than 300 local jobs. In light what he has just said about the Hitachi-Horizon announcement and nuclear generation in Wales, can he say more about supply chain job creation in both Wales and other parts of the UK?

The announcement by Hitachi provides an enormous opportunity for all those involved in the nuclear industry in this country, particularly those in the supply chain. I am heartened that Hitachi has already said that up to 60% of the total cost of the first nuclear reactor will come from British content. I have no doubt that there is a tremendous opportunity for companies such as those in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

I welcome the support the Secretary of State has given to Horizon and for the takeover by Hitachi. To get 21st-century technologies such as offshore wind and nuclear power on to the grid, we need to improve the infrastructure, and 21st-century infrastructure should include subsea and subsea stations. Will the Secretary of State agree to meet me to discuss the proposals from National Grid that are in front of the public in north Wales?

I commend the hon. Gentleman for the work he has done in seeking to obtain new nuclear on Anglesey. He knows that I have always been anxious to work closely with him on all aspects of nuclear generation on Anglesey and of course I am prepared to meet him, because he has raised a very important point.

As the Secretary of State knows, Wales is very well placed for energy generation and the Swansea bay tidal lagoon project plans to offer educational services to the university in Swansea to foster skills in green energy creation. Will he commend the project and those similar to it for their commitment to creating jobs and local expertise in Wales?

The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Green energy presents enormous opportunities to Wales and I commend the project he mentions. We now have the green investment bank, which has just been launched today. It will provide the most enormous opportunity to leverage investment into that important future sector.

I thank the Secretary of State for being so positive. He knows that renewable energy generation in Wales increased by 58% between 2004 and 2010 and employs hundreds of people, including in the solar panel industry in mid-Wales, and of course we have seen the developments on Ynys Môn, the energy island. Does he agree that now is perhaps the time for us in Wales to showcase our skills, our resources and our prospects to the rest of the world at a green energy summit? If he is so minded, would it not be a good thing to place that summit in the enterprise zone at Trawsfynydd?

Actually, I had not thought of that, but it is an excellent idea that we should take further. I was speaking to the leader of Gwynedd council, Councillor Dyfed Edwards, the other day and discussed the important enterprise zone at Trawsfynydd. Let us explore the prospects of a summit at Trawsfynydd.