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Renewable Energy

Volume 568: debated on Thursday 17 October 2013

In 2012, under the measure used for the 2009 EU renewable energy directive, renewable sources contributed 4.1% of gross final energy consumption. In terms of renewable electricity, however, the share of overall generation has more than doubled in the last three years, from 6% in the second quarter of 2010, when the Labour party left government, to 15.5% in the second quarter of 2013.

I welcome that answer from my right hon. Friend. Alstom in my constituency supplies component parts for turbines used in tidal lagoons, such as those proposed by Tidal Lagoon Power, a consortium of which Alstom is a member. What is my right hon. Friend doing to support such tidal projects, which generate clean electricity and provide critical base load energy?

My hon. Friend will know that this Government have put much greater emphasis on driving forward the efforts to develop the potential for marine energy around our shoreline. We have created two marine energy parks to do that. Tidal lagoon is a very interesting technology. The project in Swansea is at a pre-planning application stage, so I cannot give a specific answer on that project, but we are interested in working on research and development to drive the technology forward.

I do not know whether the Minister is as early a riser as I am, but on “Farming Today” there was a poor farmer who had been encouraged by a £1 million grant to grow willow and miscanthus. There is no market for it, nor great storage for it, so what kind of policy is that? Will the Minister listen to that programme, even if he has to listen to it on iPlayer, and do something about farmers who are trying to contribute to renewable energy?

A poor farmer with a £1 million grant seems a slight oxymoron, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is making a real point. I will happily look into the programme he mentions, but I regularly meet the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association and a range of stakeholders with an interest in bioenergy. We are making great progress under this Government and picking up the slack left by the last.

Order. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) is wittering away from a sedentary position and meanwhile the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames) is chuntering about the merits of cricket bats. I have not yet had the pleasure of observing the right hon. Gentleman bat, but I feel sure that that delight awaits me in due course.

If The Times is correct that the nuclear industry will receive twice the wholesale price for electricity, what are the implications for renewable energy, and does that mean that we can continue to grow the sector?

The thing about this Government’s energy policy is that we want a range of technologies. Energy security will come from diversity, and we are committed to driving forward the nuclear programme in a way that the previous Labour Government did not, but not to the exclusion or detriment of significant investment in a range of other technologies, including, importantly, renewables and energy efficiency.

What are the Government doing to ensure that the investment in the renewable industry paid for by UK taxpayers and UK energy bill payers results in jobs in the UK, not jobs elsewhere?

That is a very good question. We are doing a great deal more than the previous Government. The London Array, for example, was a fantastic installation, but it is a shame that 80% of it was constructed and contracted abroad. We now have an industrial strategy. We are working in partnership with the industry to establish, mobilise and grow a supply chain here in the UK. Only if we have a really vibrant UK supply chain is the roll-out of renewables at scale genuinely sustainable.