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Energy-intensive Industries

Volume 741: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2023

The Government have committed £20 billion to support early development of CCUS—carbon capture, usage and storage—and £500 million to the industrial energy transformation fund to help industry to decarbonise, with phase 3 expected to open for applications in early 2024.

We are still waiting for a lot of that to happen. The Tees Valley hosts a huge number of energy-intensive industries, but we have lost many of them over the years—a few years ago it was steelmaking, but more recently we saw the demise of the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company at Darlington, which built the Sydney harbour bridge. The last ammonia manufacturing plant in the country, that of CF Fertilisers, closed its doors this year, as did Mitsubishi’s Cassel works, with both citing that their energy costs were way higher than those of their European and American competitors. What are Ministers going to do to ensure that we do not have any more closures as a result of their policy failures?

It is a shame that the hon. Gentleman could not find it within himself to congratulate Mayor Ben Houchen on all the work he is doing to bring steelmaking back to the Tees Valley for the first time in a generation. The Government are engaging with the steel industry on a sustainable future, as announced on 15 September. Tata Steel expects to invest £1.25 billion, including a UK Government grant worth up to £500 million, in a new electric arc furnace. Frankly, the hon. Gentleman should start talking up the Tees Valley.

Sheffield has a proud history of steelmaking, so much so that we are known globally as the “steel city.” To this day, steel supports thousands of jobs in Sheffield, but repeated failures by this Government mean that more and more families are worried about the future of this key industry and the livelihoods that depend on it. Will the Minister commit to giving this vital sector the support it needs to decarbonise in a fair way, while ensuring that the industry has a green, sustainable and prosperous future?

I thank the hon. Lady for that question and, yes, I can give that commitment, because we are already engaging in that work. We are working with companies up and down the UK to ensure that they are able to decarbonise and deliver secure, high-wage, high-skilled jobs into the future, which will be the backbone of this economy as we move forward.

First, let me thank the Government for the support they give for CCUS, and not least the Acorn project in my constituency. Does my hon. Friend agree that CCUS needs to be developed across the UK at pace? Does he recognise the particular value of new CCUS power stations, such as the planned project in Peterhead in my constituency, which will generate more than 900 MW and, in conjunction with the Acorn project, will do so 95% emission-free?

Yes, I thank my hon. Friend and congratulate him on his relentless efforts to decarbonise the North sea and the north-east of Scotland, and his support for the Acorn project. I was pleased to join him and the Prime Minister at the announcement on that in the summer. As my hon. Friend knows, CCUS is a priority for this Government, and we are progressing at pace. Power CCUS will be a vital component of our route to net zero, which is why we are committed to supporting at least one power CCUS plant by the mid-2020s.

The Government are taking significant steps to support industrial clusters around the UK. They are each at a different stage of development and much of the technology is emerging as we speak, but the 2030 target is quite close and the scale of investment runs into billions of pounds. What engagement is my hon. Friend undertaking to discuss investment plans with individual businesses, to ensure that they meet the target and use the latest available technologies?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that investment is key to delivering our ambitious plans, which is why the Secretary of State was at the global investment summit yesterday. Working with the Department for Business and Trade and the Minister for Investment, we are engaging with companies on a daily basis, inspecting their investment plans to ensure they are fit for this country and the future, and will deliver the ambitious, world-leading targets we have set ourselves to decarbonise and provide the jobs of the future for this country.