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Renewable Energy Production

Volume 728: debated on Tuesday 28 February 2023

I am pleased to tell my right hon. Friend that growth in the renewables sector continues year on year, with the latest data showing that 3.4 GW of new renewable electricity capacity was installed last year alone. We will build on that further: we have now taken our highly successful contracts for difference scheme and put it on an annual basis, so allocation round 5 will open next month.

Oil and gas producers benefit from an investment allowance for investment in renewable projects in the UK, but existing renewable generators do not. Will my right hon. Friend make representations to the Chancellor, so that he can level up that anomaly and enable my right hon. Friend’s admirable renewable energy ambitions to be realised?

I thank my right hon. Friend for that question. As he knows, tax policy is a matter for the Chancellor, but I am working closely with him, along with the Secretary of State, to ensure that the electricity generator levy strikes the right balance when supporting households and businesses struggling with their energy bills. It is worth remembering that, as I have just mentioned, our main mechanism is the CfD, which provides support for renewable generators in a way that is certainly not true of those in the oil and gas sector.

Earlier this month, the pan-European EVOLVE project found significantly greater potential for marine energy in British waters, which would obviously help us achieve our net zero targets and offer a quicker route to round-the-clock renewable and carbon-free energy. Why are Ministers being so timid about backing that cutting-edge energy technology?

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is talking about tidal stream. I am delighted to say that we are the world leader in tidal stream, and that in allocation round 4—the last round of our CfD—tidal stream was included for the first time. We have greater deployment than any other country in the world, but I am like the hon. Gentleman: I share his enthusiasm for that technology, and hope to see even more from it in future.

Following on from that point about tidal stream, MeyGen in the Pentland firth is the largest consented tidal stream site in the world. To date, that site has produced 70% of global tidal stream generation, but inflation pressures have now put that project at a crossroads. It has the chance to remain the world’s leading project through a genuine scale-up, but what is required now is a £40 million ringfenced pot in AR5. Will the Government do the right thing, step up and back tidal stream, allowing Scotland to continue being a world leader?

I am proud of the fact that we are a world leader, and of course it is only thanks to the CfD scheme, which relies on levies across the whole of GB, that we are able to realise the renewable potential in Scotland. If the separatists had their way, we would not see the development that I hope to see in offshore wind, tidal and other technologies thanks to the whole of the UK, and Great Britain in particular, working together.

I am really disappointed by that answer. I was hoping that the Minister would give some commitment to tidal stream going forward. If he is talking about the whole UK and how Scotland benefits, he needs to start backing the Acorn carbon capture cluster, too. Scotland could generate up to 300,000 hydrogen jobs within the just transition, and part of that relies on the Acorn cluster getting the go-ahead. Also, Acorn is required for Scotland to meet its 2030 emissions targets. Instead of blunder and bluster, when are the Government going to step up and back Acorn?

We are the world leader, and the largest deployment of tidal stream in the world is in Scotland. We will shortly be making more announcements about allocation round 5. We will also be making announcements in the next few weeks about hydrogen, carbon capture and the future there, and I have already committed in the House to accelerating our approach to that.