Skip to main content

Energy-Intensive Industries: Decarbonisation

Volume 672: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2020

We have schemes worth nearly £2 billion operating, or in development, to support our vital energy-intensive industries to decarbonise. We will also invest in building the UK’s first fully deployed carbon capture, usage and storage cluster, and we are progressing carbon capture and hydrogen business models, both of which are crucial technologies in decarbonising our industry.

Achieving net zero is a considerable challenge for energy-intensive industries like ceramics, given the twin requirements of decarbonising without reducing international competitiveness. However, it is a challenge the sector can and will rise to, provided the UK puts supportive policies in place. Are the Government prepared to work actively with the ceramics industry, like Churchill China and Steelite, to help incentivise decarbonisation without, critically, undermining its international competitiveness?

We must work together with industry to help our vital manufacturing regions benefit from clean growth opportunities. Stoke-on-Trent North is lucky to have such a Member championing its cause. We have a number of schemes in place, such as the transforming foundation industries challenge fund, the industrial heat recovery scheme and climate change agreements, to support industries like ceramics to cut bills and save carbon. In addition, we will be opening the industrial energy transformation fund to applications for phase 1 this spring.

Manufacturers in Stoke-on-Trent rely on energy-intensive processes to create their world-class products. What assistance can the Government give to help innovation in reducing the amount of carbon emissions generated in those processes?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) and, of course, the south is as lucky as the north to have such a fantastic champion in this House.

We have a number of schemes, as I have already mentioned, particularly the transforming foundation industries challenge fund, which will support energy-intensive industries to work with each other to innovate in reducing carbon emissions. This is a joint Government and industry fund. The first competition for projects closed at the beginning of February, and applicants are due to find out later this month whether they have been successful.

Teesside is a major centre for high-carbon, energy-intensive industries, which are nervous about high energy costs, the future of the REACH regulations and carbon costs. It is good to have my near neighbour, the hon. Member for Stockton South (Matt Vickers), also supporting the CCUS campaign, but how can the Minister reassure the industry that the Government will address the high cost issues and, in particular, the REACH regulations that he is about to ditch?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. We engaged with industry constantly throughout this process: when I took this job on last year, we engaged with industry over REACH, and we are looking at a UK REACH. Most importantly, we are looking at the energy-intensive industries and how we can innovate, for example, in steel and in the steel cluster. We have had good news today for British Steel, and we can use the investment that the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth is making in carbon capture, usage and storage to turn the industry into the greenest steel industry in Europe.

Will the Government help to decarbonise the Rhondda? I ask because following the flooding we have seen significant landslides on former coal sites. I do not want to overstate this, but there is some anxiety about what that might mean for the future and stability of some of these tips. Will the Minister make sure that the Secretary of State meets me and other MPs in affected areas to make sure that the Coal Authority is doing everything in its power to make sure everybody is safe?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. The Secretary of State will certainly meet him and other concerned MPs, and make sure that the Coal Authority is doing everything it can. I would also like to visit to see for myself what is happening, so that we can work together on this. Getting to net zero by 2050 is a joint effort by the whole of this House, not just this Government.