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Renewable Energy: Public Funding

Volume 658: debated on Tuesday 9 April 2019

3. What recent assessment the Government have made of trends in the level of public funding for renewable energy since 2010. (910297)

13. What recent assessment the Government have made of trends in the level of public funding for renewable energy since 2010. (910308)

The Government have increased support for low-carbon electricity generation through consumer-funded levies, from £1.3 billion in 2010 to over £7.3 billion today, spending £30.7 billion since 2010. This support has enabled the UK to become a world leader in clean growth, and the private sector has invested more than £92 billion in clean energy since 2010.

I think that is quite a selective answer. A coalition of 20 community energy projects and affiliated groups has warned that the Government’s decision to axe the feed-in tariff incentive scheme could prove the final nail in the coffin for the sector. Since that warning was issued in February, at least 30 planned community energy projects have stalled. So what conversations has the Minister had with his colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to give proper support to community energy projects?

I thank the hon. Lady for that question, but that is not our experience. The investment that I have just described that is going into the sector is very considerable. Renewable capacity has quadrupled since 2010. Renewables’ share of electricity generation increased to 33% last year—a record high. The UK is decarbonising and we are meeting our climate change targets.

Members across the House recognise the importance of funding renewable energy policies to tackle climate change and improve air quality, but that does not go far enough. In Manchester, 126,600 children are growing up in an area with an unsafe level of air pollution. As the Mayor of Greater Manchester highlighted, further investment is needed to tackle the scale of the problem and protect the health of the most vulnerable—our children. Will the Chancellor commit to providing the wider resources needed to protect our children from toxic air?

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has the resources that he requires. The Government are supporting Mayors and urban areas across the country to take action on air quality, and we are providing money from national Government, for example through the £2.6 billion transforming cities fund, of which Greater Manchester has a significant share, to invest in the transport solutions of the future.

Although there is clearly more to do on climate change, surely action taken by this Government since 2010—we have reduced greenhouse gases, we have got more low-carbon jobs, especially in my constituency, and we are investing billions in renewables—must show our commitment.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Last month, in the spring statement, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor was able to add to those policies by announcing a scheme to help small and medium-sized enterprises to reduce their carbon footprint; a new marine zone around Ascension Island; support for the renewables sector; the new future homes standard, to ensure that from 2025 homes are built with low-carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency; and many other policies.

Tidal energy projects are powering ahead in Scotland and show substantial export potential. The Scottish Government recently announced support funding of up to £10 million to assist in commercialising its use. What support will the UK Government give the industry?

The UK Government are supporting tidal energy. We have looked at any schemes that have become available to us. We have to balance the interests of the ratepayer, the taxpayer, to ensure that the schemes that we do support are the right strategic technology and the right value for money for the UK.

Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to one of this country’s most successful publicly funded renewable energy programmes ever? I am of course talking about the last Labour Government’s export tariff, the feed-in tariff scheme, the biggest single democratisation of energy that the UK has ever seen, cutting 700,000 tonnes of carbon. This month, however, in an act of supreme national and international self-harm, the Government killed it off—kaput, finito, game over. In the real world, how can anyone, anywhere believe that this Government take their climate change obligations seriously?

The facts speak for themselves. The UK is on track to over-deliver comfortably on the first three carbon budgets out to 2022. The clean growth strategy sets out how we will meet our fourth and fifth carbon budgets, which take us to 2032, while keeping down costs for consumers, creating good jobs in the clean energy market and growing the economy.