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Wind and Solar Energy: Short-term Investment

Volume 727: debated on Tuesday 7 February 2023

12. What fiscal steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to maximise short-term investment in wind and solar energy. (903526)

The Government are committed to encouraging investment in the UK energy sector. The contracts for difference scheme has been hugely successful in driving the deployment of renewable energy while rapidly reducing costs. It is an established and successful mechanism that provides greater confidence to investors in renewable electricity projects, and to date CFD generators have received almost £6 billion net in price support through the scheme, enabling world-leading renewable deployment and lowering the cost of capital to investors.

Since 2016, the Government have handed out over £10 billion in oil and gas exploration and extraction subsidies. In contrast, major economies such as the US and the EU are putting together huge investment plans to accelerate the renewable energy transformation, and Britain is lagging behind. Is it not time that the UK phased down subsidies for new oil and gas exploration and invested that money in renewables to accelerate the transition? The Minister knows we are not transitioning fast enough and that we are missing many of our net zero targets.

I respect the hon. Lady’s consistency in asking these questions, but I beg to differ when she says we are lagging behind. We have reduced our emissions faster than any other G7 nation. Last year, 40% of our energy came from renewables and just 1.5% came from coal. We have seen huge investment in renewables. Our new Department is called the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero because it is about not just net zero but energy security. On the transition to net zero, we still need to invest in the North sea and our domestic energy sources.

I am proud of this Government’s track record on renewable energy, and I welcome today’s announcement that there will be a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Does the Minister agree that nuclear baseload is key if we are to decarbonise the transport and manufacturing sectors and deliver this Government’s net zero 2050 target?

I say it again but, if anyone is a champion of the nuclear sector, it is my hon. Friend, who has consistently championed it. She is right that renewables are crucial but that we need baseload energy. Surely, on both sides of the House, if we have learned anything from the past 12 months and what has happened following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it is that we need policy not only on renewables but on overall energy security, to which nuclear is crucial.