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Renewable Energy

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 June 2015

8. What recent discussions she has had with representatives of the renewable energy industry on the future of that industry. (900544)

17. What recent discussions she has had with representatives of the renewable energy industry on the future of that industry. (900555)

Order. The hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) does not need to despair. There are plenty of opportunities. It is rare for him to be silent for very long. We will hear from him in due course.

I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of representatives of the renewable energy industry in my new role. I am delighted to hear how the sector is thriving in the UK, with seriously good prospects for new, emerging technologies, including storage, on the horizon.

Following the comments of Keith Anderson, the chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, that

“if you prematurely bring onshore wind to a halt you will end up costing consumers £2bn to £3bn”,

does the Minister share my concern that the Government’s headlong rush to scrap subsidies for onshore wind will hit the pockets of consumers hardest?

As we have explained, the early closure of the RO for onshore wind will save consumers money. The subsidies in their bills, which would have gone towards an excess of deployment above our target would have cost consumers hundreds of millions of pounds more.

Following the announcement of the closure of ROs for onshore wind, many renewables developers are worried about what else might be in the pipeline. Will the Minister give an absolute assurance that there are no plans to cut the funds available through contracts for difference for offshore wind developments?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the policy on CfDs is being considered right now. It is certainly our intention to continue to promote a successful and thriving renewables industry and we will make announcements in due course.

The hon. Lady has already mentioned the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, which is an excellent and very exciting project that will create thousands of jobs in my constituency. It is critical that the foot is kept on the accelerator; otherwise the timings will be seriously out, seriously jeopardising the future of the project. What discussions has she had with state aid officials in Brussels to ensure that the project is not held up there?

We are very focused on removing all the potential obstacles to the project, including by having conversations with the European Commission on state aid issues. Our foot is firmly on the accelerator and we will do everything we can to support the project.