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Energy Efficiency

Volume 585: debated on Thursday 4 September 2014

8. What steps he is taking to increase the UK’s energy efficiency in comparison to that of other industrialised states. (905181)

The innovation of UK business, underpinned by a range of policy measures, has seen the UK become a world leader on energy efficiency. Since 2006 we have had the least energy-intensive economy in the G7. According to the 2013 energy projections the UK is on track to overachieve against its 2020 European Union energy efficiency targets, while collectively the EU has more work to do.

Energy-intensive industries, including ceramics, brick and tile-making and steel, have done a huge amount over the past two decades to improve their energy efficiency, yet they face competition from companies both within the EU and elsewhere whose energy costs are subsidised, whether overtly or covertly. Will my hon. Friend set out what the Government are doing to ensure that UK energy-intensive industries are not put at a competitive disadvantage?

The Government recognise both the challenges that high energy costs represent for industry, particularly energy-intensive industries, and the progress made to improve efficiency across many sectors. That is why in Budget 2014 the Government announced a £500 million-a-year package for support for energy-intensive industries, including compensation for the cost of renewable support schemes and providing relief from the climate change levy, including full exemptions for the metallurgical and mineralogical sectors. Together with the amendments to the carbon price floor, those changes will be worth about £7 billion to businesses in the UK.

Thanks to the work of Nottingham Energy Partnership and Nottingham city council, many of my constituents want solid wall insulation to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, but the sudden closure of the green deal home improvement fund just a month after it opened means that they cannot afford it and local firms offering to insulate cannot plan future work. The Secretary of State dodged the question, but what is the answer: what went wrong and when will there be some certainty about the future of this scheme?

I simply do not recognise the hon. Lady’s characterisation of the scheme. It has been a great success, and it is because of its success that we had to close it early. More than 20,000 new homes are going to receive energy-efficiency measures and I would hope that the hon. Lady welcomed that.

When it comes to efficiency, would it not be more effective to allow this country’s three remaining deep-pit coal mines to exhaust their reserves, rather than bringing in Russian coal, which Putin could stop tomorrow, and also American coal?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. Of course this country’s energy mix must include renewables as well as coal. I think that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Business and Enterprise has largely answered that question already.