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Sustainable Electricity Generation

Volume 642: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2018

6. What steps he is taking to encourage investment in environmentally sustainable electricity generation. (905783)

Since 2010, we have seen a large increase in renewables deployment and investment, with more than £52 billion invested, and indeed it is paying off. In 2017, more than half our energy generation came from low-carbon sources. As prices tumble, we can buy more with the same amount of money, which is why we are making £557 million available for further contracts for difference. We have started negotiations with Hitachi to bring forward the country’s second new nuclear plant, which my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) mentioned.

The Minister talks a good talk, but rooftop solar panel take-up is at a seven-year low. In my seat, Alternergy has gone from topping the Fintech 100 to an 80% drop in business since the end of the feed-in tariff was announced in 2012. What assurances does the Minister have for such firms after the scheme closes next year?

It is right that we look at how we can deliver subsidy-free energy using schemes such as the feed-in tariff that have been wildly successful. I will shortly be launching a call for evidence so that we can come up with a good replacement for the feed-in tariff scheme.

There were two things. First was the world-leading contract structure that we set up with our auctions; I pay tribute to that very good coalition policy. The second thing was the enormous deployment globally and the reduction in price of the various components. It has been a great British success story.

In 2015, the then Secretary of State said that 2018 would be the year for the UK to ratchet up our Paris climate commitments and our progress towards sustainable generation, but in the past three years the Government have capped support for low-carbon energy and destroyed 12,000 solar jobs. Clean energy investment, which fell by 10% in 2016, fell by a further 56% in 2017 to its lowest level in a decade. How about the Minister comes down off cloud complacency and finally gives investors certainty about the renewables industry, starting with a date for the consultation on the post feed-in tariff framework?

I think that the question in all that preamble was, “What is the date?” As I said, we will be announcing that soon.

Globally, the nuclear power market is declining rapidly while the low-carbon power of offshore wind and battery storage becomes more affordable. How can the UK Government justify taking a reported £5 billion direct stake, and a further guarantee of £9 billion, in the nuclear white elephant that is Hitachi Wylfa Newydd?

As I have said repeatedly, we have entered into negotiations. I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that one of the saddest things I saw at the conference of the parties in Bonn this year was the barge-loads of dirty brown coal sailing down the Ruhr because countries like Germany have made an ideological choice about their energy supply rather than focusing on what keeps the lights on, costs down and carbon falling.

The Minister said earlier that she “gave a stuff” about household budgets, yet Tory dogma is set to saddle consumers with nuclear energy costing about £80 per megawatt-hour compared with under £60 for offshore wind. Is it not time that the UK Government stopped living in the past, scrapped this nuclear project and put households, who bear the brunt of costs, front of mind?

The hon. Gentleman cites numbers that have no relevance to the negotiations. We have to keep bills down, and we have to make sure that the lights are on, that we have a secure energy supply and that we decarbonise. We think nuclear is very much part of that mix.