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Geothermal Energy

Volume 613: debated on Thursday 14 July 2016

1. What assessment she has made of the potential contribution of deep geothermal as a source of renewable energy. (905848)

If you will allow me, Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd), the new Home Secretary, on her appointment, and also of course our new Prime Minister, the former Home Secretary? I wish them both great success. I also welcome the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) to his place; I think this is the first time we have had an exchange over the Dispatch Box. I wish the hon. Members for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) and for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) very good luck in their futures, too; I have enjoyed our exchanges.

Owing to our geology, deep geothermal power is likely to make a small contribution to electricity supply. However, Cornwall is one area where the technology can work and I am pleased that this is part of the devolution deal for Cornwall. Deep geothermal heat has greater potential and we are supporting its development through the renewable heat incentive and through feasibility studies funded by the heat network delivery unit.

I thank the Minister for that response. Deep geothermal has the great benefit of being a baseload energy source that is not reliant on variable weather conditions, and, as the Minister points out, Cornwall is one place where great potential for geothermal lies. As she is aware, a scheme is being developed at the Eden project in my constituency. May I invite her to visit Cornwall to see for herself the huge potential that there is for geothermal development there?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend; nothing would please me more than a nice holiday in Cornwall right now. I am very pleased to hear that the EGS Energy and Eden project development is progressing well and, as he knows, it has the potential to produce power for about 4,000 homes and to make a very important contribution to the local community.

The truth is that the Ernst & Young renewable energy attractiveness index shows that the UK has fallen from the seventh most attractive country to invest in to the 13th. Following Brexit, that is only going to get worse, so what is the Minister doing to reverse that trend?

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance the UK has been the fourth highest investor in clean energy globally for the past five years. Over half the total investment in the EU in 2015 occurred in the UK. We have a very proud record and we are set to exceed our own targets for generating renewable energy by 2020. That is a very proud achievement for this country.

Iceland has a fantastic football team, a free trade agreement of its own with China and is outside the EU. It is also the world’s leader in geothermal energy. Are we drawing on Iceland’s expertise to develop this industry in our own country?

If my hon. Friend is referring to the taskforce for the interconnector with Iceland, let me say that I am a huge fan of that, and there will be a statement shortly about the progress that he will be aware has been made between the leaders of the UK and Iceland. I seriously hope we will be able to make progress with all sorts of bilateral energy deals in the future.