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Grid Decarbonisation: Cost

Volume 748: debated on Tuesday 16 April 2024

23. What recent estimate she has made of the cost of decarbonising the grid by (a) 2030 and (b) 2035. (902296)

Our plans to decarbonise the grid by 2035 are ambitious but achievable, and have been assessed as realistic by the Climate Change Committee. They will build on the UK’s achievement in becoming the first major economy to have halved emissions. According to independent analysis, securing a net zero grid by 2030 would cost taxpayers £116 billion, and it would mean a “made in China” transition.

The Conservatives have a strong track record of promoting renewables, and this Government are supporting British companies and supply chains through programmes such as Giga with funding which now stands at more than £1 billion. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Labour’s unaffordable and unrealistic plans to achieve a net zero grid by 2030 will not give British supply chains time to grow, as well as meaning the “made in China” transition to which she has referred?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. Only recently, we have seen European countries having to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas. We cannot do that, only to become dependent on other parts of the world for our energy needs. Our plan will give British supply chains time to develop, ensuring that British workers can reap the benefits of the energy transition. According to expert analysis, the Labour plans will cost taxpayers £100 billion—all to undermine British manufacturing and risk blackouts.

As the Secretary of State is aware, the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into decarbonising the economy has heard evidence that no newly commissioned nuclear capacity—even from small modular reactors—is able to come on stream until 2035. New energy projects given planning consent today are unlikely to connect to the grid before 2030, and the scale of the necessary grid network roll-out to reach our 2035 target is already huge. What does my right hon. Friend make of the feasibility, let alone the cost that she has highlighted today, of the fantasy pipe dream of official Labour party policy to decarbonise by 2030?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. The plans that we have set out represent the largest expansion of nuclear in 70 years, with radical reforms to the grid. However, it does take time to build things. Labour’s 2030 policy is mad, bad and downright dangerous. I have yet to meet a serious expert or a single person in the industry who believes it is possible. We have a record to be proud of, becoming the first major economy to halve our emissions, but Labour’s plans would heap costs on to taxpayers, in stark contrast to our pragmatic and proportionate approach.

If grid decarbon-isation by 2030 really did cost the billions of pounds that the Secretary of State claims, she might care to explain why her own policy is to achieve 95% of full decarbonisation by the very same date. She knows that independent analysis actually says that Labour’s plan would reduce families’ energy bills by £300 a year, so will she ’fess up? Will she admit that the true price of her failure will be paid for by hard-pressed families in their energy bills?

I would completely reject that, based on the many conversations that I have had with industry and experts. The plans that we have set out have been assessed by the Climate Change Committee as being realistic. The plans that the Labour party has set out have been criticised by pretty much every single part of the energy system. Rather than playing politics with this issue, the hon. Gentleman should consider the reality of the taxes, the raised bills and the problems with the economy that Labour’s plans would force on Britain.

Last year, the Government promised that they would publish their decarbonisation plan by the end of 2023, but they have failed to do so. Is that because the Secretary of State is too embarrassed to admit the truth? She is way off track, even for delivering clean power by 2035, because she has bungled the offshore wind auction, is failing on energy efficiency and refuses to end the onshore wind ban. Is it not the case that she wants to attack Labour’s plan because she cannot defend her own?

I thank the hon. Lady, but that is an extraordinary question. There would be much more credibility from the Labour party if it would recognise that the UK is the first country in the G20—the 20 largest economies—to halve emissions. While Labour Members might play politics with this issue, I am absolutely happy to defend our position on dealing with our climate change obligations in a pragmatic way that protects household finances.