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Renewable Energy Sources

Volume 659: debated on Tuesday 30 April 2019

Last year, renewable generation provided a third of our electricity and, as I have stated, over the Easter weekend we went 90 hours without any coal generation. Both were new records. Our next contracts for difference allocation round will open next month. We are driving down the cost of clean technologies and investing £2.5 billion in low-carbon innovation.

Far from leading the way, the UK has plummeted to the bottom of SolarPower Europe’s league table of 20 world markets in solar, and we are one of the few EU countries not providing any support at all to solar power. Not only has solar had all support removed prematurely but it is being hit by wave after wave of fresh damage, making it harder to meet our climate targets. Will the Secretary of State or the Minister meet me to discuss the damaging net effect of the Government’s policies on solar and on the transition to clean energy?

I am sure that the Minister for Energy and Climate Change will be happy to meet the hon. Lady, but as I have stated, photovoltaic is a UK success story. We have seen 830,000 installations, and I have mentioned the smart export guarantee tariff that is being designed. We want to ensure that this will be able to generate profit for those companies, and that we continue to be able to lead Europe on this.

Eliminating net carbon emissions by 2050 is both ambitious and achievable. Does my hon. Friend agree that the progress made over the past decade demonstrates that, where there is the political will, it is possible to reduce emissions while supporting economic prosperity?

Absolutely. We need to deliver ambitious reductions in emissions, considering our long-term targets in the light of the latest science. That is why we have asked the Committee on Climate Change for advice on our long-term targets, including that net zero target. The committee’s advice will be published this Thursday, and we will consider it carefully.

Of course we have a record to be proud of when it comes to renewable energy, but we should always continue to be as ambitious as we have been. How significant has the UK’s contribution been to ensuring that Scotland meets its renewable targets?

The Government are firmly committed to the renewables industry, and Scotland has benefited proportionately more than the rest of the United Kingdom under existing policies. It will continue to benefit from future investment. Fifteen Scottish projects have been awarded contracts for difference with a total capacity of 2.57 GW, and the Government and numerous other public sector organisations have provided £15 million to fund the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, which is one of the world’s leading wave and tidal demonstration centres.

The truth of the matter right now is that, far from expanding the source of renewables, the Government have narrowed the use of renewable energy in recent years. Of course we should strongly support the development of offshore wind, but the Minister must acknowledge that marine and tidal power has been almost strangled at birth by the Government’s indifference and even active hostility, and that onshore wind and solar PV have been severely hampered by adverse Government decisions on support and planning. On lack of support, will the Minister answer a specific question? Why is he sanctioning a VAT rate rise to 20% on solar power while at the same time maintaining a rate of just 5% on coal and fuel oil?

The industry has invested more than £92 billion in clean energy since 2010. As I have stated, renewables now generate 33% of our electricity, and 52.8% comes from low-carbon sources. As for the VAT issue, we are working with organisations and companies to ensure that we can get the best possible deal when it comes to renewables. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth will be happy to discuss the matter with the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) in further detail, but we are committed to ensuring that we have a wide range of renewables, including marine energy and offshore and onshore wind, to make sure that we can continue to drive up our renewable capacity.

14. Thirty gigawatts of installed solar shows that it is an essential tool to ensure clean growth and is vital in our fight against climate change. Despite the Treasury’s consultation, does the Minister agree that it should keep the reduced VAT rate for solar, which was guaranteed as recently as 2016? (910604)

The hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) also reflected on that, and it is vital that renewables remain an important part of our energy generation mix. Our clean growth and industrial strategies set out how we will build progress in all such areas, but I am sure that the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth will be happy to meet my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Antoinette Sandbach) to discuss the issue.