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Green Investment

Volume 563: debated on Thursday 6 June 2013

The coalition is committed to growing the green economy. An unprecedented £29 billion of new investment has been announced in renewable energy alone since 2010. We are driving further green investment through the Energy Bill, the green deal and the energy company obligation, the green investment bank, our carbon capture and storage competition, the reformed feed-in tariff, the renewable heat incentive, and our support for low-carbon research and innovation.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his article in The Daily Telegraph today showing that we are working closely with Sweden on these matters. What assessment has he made of the proposed EU anti-dumping tariffs on the Chinese solar PVs?

My hon. Friend is right. We are very concerned by the impact of EU tariffs on the UK solar industry. In the past three years we have added about 2.5 GW of solar here in the UK. We are making great progress but that could be jeopardised if those tariffs go ahead. I have personally been to Brussels with a number of key stakeholders from the UK solar industry to lobby the Commission, and we will continue to fight on for open borders and for the interests of the UK renewables industry.

Will the Minister explain why the UK has fallen to seventh in the world for investment in clean energy since the Government came to power?

There are a number of surveys, but the Ernst and Young survey shows that the UK is now the fifth most attractive place for renewables investment and deployment, up one place on last year.

The announcement by the Scottish Government of the relaunch of the marine renewables commercialisation fund, while welcome, has, as my right hon. Friend knows, created an imbalance between that and Wave Hub in west Cornwall. What can the Government do to ensure that the Scottish Government and this Government work in partnership on marine renewables?

As my hon. Friend knows, I am a keen champion of UK-wide marine energy. Under this coalition, we have opened a marine energy park in the south-west, and also in the waters off the north of Scotland. It is vital that we develop the marine resource right the way around the British Isles. However, I take on board the point raised by my hon. Friend, who is a big champion of marine energy in the south-west, and I will be happy to meet him to discuss it further.

Why does research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that investment in renewables has more than halved since this Government came to power?

Actually, as I said, an unprecedented sum of over £29 billion has been invested in renewables since the coalition came to power. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, there has been a slight tailing off in recent months, but that is to be expected, just as we expect a real acceleration once the strike price is announced and the Energy Bill is enacted.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I want to pursue further the EU’s imposition of tariffs. Perhaps the Minister could explain how on earth this will do anything to make it easier for people, if they wish, to install solar panels, and how on earth it will do anything to make it cheaper for those struggling to pay their energy bills.

My hon. Friend and I are absolutely on the same page on this matter. That is why I am fighting this EU proposal very hard. It is not just me; 18 other member states take a similar view to us. We are determined to continue to push the EU Commission to come to a sensible agreement with China and to make sure that the EU stands for free trade and open borders.

One significant form of low-carbon green investment that the Secretary of State spoke about during his speech to the Met Office on Monday is carbon capture and storage. His predecessor told the House in October 2011, when Scottish Power pulled out of the Longannet project, that he guaranteed that there would be no Treasury backsliding on the capital funds for CCS demonstrator projects in the competition. Will the Minister confirm whether that remains the case—yes or no—and whether the £1 billion is still available?

I am grateful for that answer, and I am sure that those in the industry who will be slightly disconcerted by the tenor of some of the remarks by the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon), during the passage of the Energy Bill will be gratified as well. However, may I press the Minister a little further? Given that the Cabinet Office project assessment review that I obtained last year said that in the current comprehensive spending review only £200 million was available, will the remainder of the £1 billion be available for the next CSR period? Can he confirm that whatever else he has given up in his less grand bargain with the Treasury on DECC’s budget, that money is safeguarded for CCS in the next CSR period?

I am very happy to scotch the hon. Gentleman’s baseless scaremongering and political point-scoring. The fact of the matter is that we are going forward with the CCS programme, and it is going to be successful, unlike Labour’s failed attempts at CCS. We have two preferred bidders in place, and it is backed by £1 billion, putting the UK at the front of the global race for carbon capture and storage.