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Tidal Power

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 19 March 2015

19. What recent assessment he has made of the merits of proposals for the generation of electricity from tidal lagoons. (908214)

I am delighted that we are back on tidal power. My considered view is that tidal energy has many merits: it is clean, renewable, predictable, home-grown and secure. Tidal lagoons can be built in numerous places in the UK and have the potential to meet up to 8% of our electricity needs. Tidal lagoon costs could fall significantly in the next decade, as larger, more cost-effective projects are deployed. With tidal lagoons having the potential to last 120 years, this is a future green energy technology that I hope all parties will strongly support.—[Interruption.]

My hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) is claiming the credit for most of the Secretary of State’s answer. I share my hon. Friend’s enthusiasm for the prospects for tidal power in the Severn estuary. When does the Minister expect the strike price to be agreed, which will help to spur the full commercialisation of the sector? Does he share the concern of organisations such as Citizens Advice that the current strike price for tidal lagoon power is higher than that for any major green energy project to date?

The negotiations with the Tidal Lagoon Power company are bilateral, so they will set the strike price over months and we cannot give an exact timetable on how long they will take. I read the CAB report, but it was not as informed as it might have been. The first tidal lagoon power plant, which will be the world’s first, is likely to be a bit more expensive, just as when the UK had the first offshore wind farm it was a bit more expensive. Unless we invest in new technologies, we will not get the costs down. We have seen the costs of solar tumble. We have seen the costs of offshore wind tumble. We have seen the costs of onshore wind tumble. That has only happened because we have invested in new technology. That is the way that Britain—a world leader—should go.