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Energy Transition Projects in Scotland

Volume 711: debated on Tuesday 29 March 2022

I am delighted to assure hon. Members that Scotland is at the heart of the UK’s transition to net zero—something I hope they will welcome. In November last year, we committed £20 million to the funding for tidal stream projects through the contracts for difference, giving Scotland’s significant marine energy sector a chance to develop its expertise. We have also allocated £40 million in carbon capture development funding for the Acorn Project and £27 million for the Aberdeen energy transition zone.

I am sure the rest of the UK welcomes that contribution to renewable energy as well, but local communities up and down the country, such as Partick in Glasgow North, want to champion the just transition by generating their own local renewable electricity. If the Local Electricity Bill, which has cross-party support on both sides of the House, is brought back in the next Session, will the Government make time and support it?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, which I will pass on to my hon. Friend the Energy Minister, who is currently suffering from covid. We have put money into the community energy fund. We are supporting community energy and we are passionate not just about the big infrastructure but, as the hon. Gentleman says, about community energy schemes.

The University of Stirling has cut its carbon emissions by 43.8% since 2007. It has an ambitious target to achieve net zero by 2040, with fantastic plans for a solar farm, geothermal developments, the repurposing of an existing combined heat and power plant, and hydro. However, it is finding that those developments are held back by a lack of UK Government support and the rhetoric is often not matched by the reality. Will the Minister, in a constructive spirit, meet me to see whether we can crack through the paperwork and support those great projects?

As Minister for Science, Research and Innovation I would be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman. The university is doing great work. We have just announced and made the allocation of the biggest increase for a generation in science, research and innovation funding for universities, and I would be very happy to meet him and see what we can do to support that cluster.

I thank the Minister for reminding the House that this is a transition, not an extinction. Can he confirm that, as part of the North sea transition deal, we need to keep extracting hydrocarbons for the ongoing, albeit declining, demand that we have in this country and to support investment and jobs in that industry? Finally, does he agree that the companies on which the Opposition parties, including the SNP, want to slap an arbitrary windfall tax are precisely those companies that have the skills, the knowledge, the expertise, the technology and the capital to invest in the energy transition that this country desperately needs, and that we can show the world how it is done?

My hon. Friend is absolutely spot on. It is surprising not to hear the Scottish nationalists welcoming the North sea transition deal a bit more. To remind the House, it is a programme that will draw on the expertise in Scotland’s offshore North sea oil and gas sector and help it to lead the transition to carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, offshore wind and tidal, and it is set to create over 40,000 jobs and attract £14 billion of investment. That is the best way—and frankly, the best thing the SNP here could do is to help their colleagues in Scotland to support it.