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European Interconnection

Volume 585: debated on Thursday 4 September 2014

Increasing electricity interconnection is an important part of our policy because it supports our energy objectives. The gas market is already well connected. Last December, I published “More interconnection: improving energy security and lowering bills”, which sets out our plans. A new regulatory regime for investment has since been announced. The Government have made a commitment to open our capacity market to interconnected capacity from 2015 and have supported about 6 GW of projects to benefit from European projects of common interest status.

Following the visit to Plymouth of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker), who was enthusiastic about the marine energy park, what discussions has the Secretary of State had with Plymouth city council to ensure that the marine energy park is delivered as part of the Plymouth and south-west peninsula city deal?

I have had no personal discussions with Plymouth city council on that matter. I will ensure that those discussions are taken forward either by the Minister of State or myself. That idea is part of our long-term plan. My hon. Friend is right that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle did a fantastic job on marine parks, not just in the south-west, but elsewhere. That is part of the way in which we want to take forward marine and tidal energy.

What progress has the Secretary of State made on the Iceland and Norway interconnectors? Will he produce a report for the House on the potential for securing the supply of substantial amounts of very low-carbon energy into the country through those interconnectors?

The Norway project—the NSN project—is particularly exciting because there is a massive surplus of hydroelectric power that could come through a cable from Norway. Those talks have been really effective. The announcements that Ofgem and the Department have made—particularly that we will allow interconnector capacity to bid into the capacity market from 2015—have been well received in Oslo by the Norwegian authorities. I am confident about that interconnector project. The idea behind IceLink is that we could get a cable from Iceland to Scotland and supply geothermal energy through it. We are waiting to hear from the Icelandic authorities on how they want to take that project forward.