Lord Ravensdale debates with Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

There have been 13 exchanges between Lord Ravensdale and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Mon 14th December 2020 Green Economic Recovery (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (73 words)
Thu 19th November 2020 Fossil Fuels: Business (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (69 words)
Tue 20th October 2020 World Energy Outlook 2020 (Lords Chamber) 5 interactions (139 words)
Wed 14th October 2020 Rolls-Royce (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (76 words)
Mon 28th September 2020 Energy White Paper (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (82 words)
Thu 17th September 2020 Energy: Hydrogen (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (74 words)
Tue 15th September 2020 Renewable Energy (Lords Chamber) 4 interactions (110 words)
Thu 2nd July 2020 Environmental Projects (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (60 words)
Thu 6th February 2020 Climate Change (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (677 words)
Tue 14th January 2020 Nuclear Power: Emissions (Lords Chamber) 5 interactions (182 words)
Tue 29th October 2019 Net Zero Carbon Emissions (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (83 words)
Mon 15th July 2019 Space Science and Technology (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (467 words)
Wed 26th June 2019 Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (751 words)

Green Economic Recovery

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Monday 14th December 2020

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for her question. She is quite right, of course: the farming community has had a very difficult year, as have many other industries. Where possible, we should all buy local freshly produced produce.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interests in the register. The voice of the regions will be key to our green economic recovery. The Midlands Engine’s green growth conversation aims to bring together key players in the energy sector, including local authorities, LEPs, businesses and academics to create a regional action plan. What plans do the Government have to interact with such initiatives and support existing regional strengths to enable a clean economic recovery?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a very good point; the Midlands green growth conversation is an important piece of work, and I look forward to the Midlands Engine growth action plan, which I understand is being published in the new year. The 10-point plan sets out our intention to “reinvigorate our industrial heartlands”, such as the north and the Midlands.

Fossil Fuels: Business

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend makes an extremely good point: we want to be a world leader in carbon capture usage and storage technologies. He will have noted the announcement of an extra £200 million to add to the £800 million already committed in the plan, for a total of £1 billion in this world-leading technology.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interests as in the register. I very much welcome the Government’s ambition for London to become the global centre of green finance and the announcement by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures last week. Have the Government considered legislating to mandate financial institutions to align portfolios to net zero, as a way to incentivise fossil-fuel-intensive businesses to accelerate their moves towards this goal?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As the noble Lord referenced in his question, we are mandating climate information in financial disclosures. We welcome other commitments from the many banks and financial institutions that are already joining us on the path to net zero.

World Energy Outlook 2020

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2020, published on 13 October.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, in asking this Question I declare my interests as recorded in the register.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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The World Energy Outlook 2020 report examines how the global energy system could develop under different scenarios in the coming decades. We welcome its focus on the impact of the pandemic and the choices needed to enable a sustainable recovery. We also welcome the focus on the path to reaching global net-zero emissions. We will continue to draw on the analysis as we work to accelerate the global energy transition, including through COP 26.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. The report recommends faster structural changes and the need for Governments to take decisive actions to accelerate clean-energy transitions, particularly over the next decade. First, can the Minister give any indication of when we can expect the transport decarbonisation plan and the buildings and heat strategy? Secondly, we have been promised an energy White Paper this autumn. I noted the thickening autumn leaves as I walked to Parliament today, so can he reassure the House that the energy White Paper will be with us before the end of November?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, I am sorry to disappoint the noble Lord. I cannot give him a specific answer to that, but we expect the White Paper to come shortly.

Rolls-Royce

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Wednesday 14th October 2020

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I congratulate the noble Lord on getting the Royal Navy, a matter close to his heart, into his question again. But to be serious, I agree that we need to develop the next generation of small modular reactors, and we are providing support to enable that to happen.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interest as in the register. The East Midlands, where Rolls-Royce has its headquarters, has the lowest public sector research and development spend in the UK, at £83 per head. R&D and the skilled jobs that it generates are essential to the levelling-up agenda. What plans do the Government have to increase R&D spend in the Midlands, making the most of its strengths in the rail, aerospace, nuclear and other vital sectors?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We are happy to support good R&D projects. Rolls-Royce is a major beneficiary of our R&D support operations through the £1.95 billion Aerospace Technology Institute programme. It is also one of our largest UK investors in R&D.

Energy White Paper

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Monday 28th September 2020

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes a very good point. As I am sure she is aware, we have created a carbon capture and storage infrastructure fund of at least £800 million to establish at least two UK sites—one by the mid-2020s and the other by 2030—and £500 million to help energy-intensive industries to move to low-carbon techniques and decarbonise carbon-intensive regions such as Humberside.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as in the register. Given that we are unlikely to achieve net zero without nuclear power, which is critical to the security of thousands of jobs across the regions, I am concerned that the White Paper will contain only a broad outline of the strategy for new nuclear. Will it set out in detail clear guidance on financing, for example a commitment to a RAB model, to give the sector the clarity it needs to progress?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The White Paper will look at the whole system of energy within the UK as part of our commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. I reaffirm the key role that nuclear will play as part of that future energy mix. I can tell the noble Lord that we will respond to the RAB consultation in due course.

Energy: Hydrogen

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Thursday 17th September 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The Hydrogen Advisory Council has already been established and is meeting. My noble friend is entirely correct that hydrogen will play a key role in our decarbonisation efforts. We will want to set that out fully before the COP in 2021.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interests as in the register. Currently the major basis for hydrogen production, as other noble Lords have said, is steam methane reforming, of which CO2 is a by-product. It requires the successful deployment of CCS, which is a high risk from an engineering and commercial perspective. Does the Minister agree that a drive in research and development towards non-methane reforming sources of production needs to be a major priority?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I agree that we need to look at all available technologies for the production of hydrogen, whether blue or green, including electrolysis and other methods. It will be a key fuel for our decarbonisation efforts and we need to consider all available technologies.

Renewable Energy

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Tuesday 15th September 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the updated recommendations from the National Infrastructure Commission that the United Kingdom should aim to meet two-thirds of its electricity needs using renewable energy sources by 2030.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, we welcome the recent NIC report and will consider its recommendations. The Government are committed to reaching net zero through a sustainable, diverse and resilient energy system. This will require significantly increased renewables deployment. Renewables are on track to deliver the majority of electricity by 2030, having reached nearly 50% in the first quarter of this year. The energy White Paper will set out plans to further accelerate renewables deployment.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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I declare my interests, as set out in the register. I thank the Minister for that response. Given the NIC’s findings that increased earlier investment in renewables can be delivered at the same overall cost, meeting half only of total demand by 2030, and will not increase costs for consumers, can the Minister give assurances that the Government will prioritise investment in the UK’s world-leading renewables sector in the forthcoming spending review?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord will understand that the spending review is of course a matter for the Treasury and that I cannot comment ahead of its decisions. However, we are prioritising investment in the renewables sector. We are accelerating new capacity through the contracts for difference scheme, which gives us certainty to drive private sector investment and has been very successful in driving down costs.

Environmental Projects

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Thursday 2nd July 2020

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I welcome my noble friend back to the Chamber. I agree with her that we are committed to building back better and greener. I am sure the overseas territories will have an important role to play in that, and of course we will consider requests for funding from them.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB) [V]
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My Lords, while the establishment of a Cabinet committee on climate change is welcome, we need to do more to embed climate consideration in policy-making across government and consider the systems nature of net-zero delivery. Will the Government consider establishing a cross-departmental body to oversee the delivery of net zero and mitigate the siloed thinking inherent in individual departmental responsibilities?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The noble Lord is correct: the net-zero challenge is fundamentally cross-cutting. That is why in the run-up to the COP 26 summit we will bring forward ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy, including an energy White Paper, a transport decarbonisation plan and a heat and building strategy. We need to avoid siloed thinking in government across these endeavours.

Climate Change

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Thursday 6th February 2020

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, for bringing this important report to our attention. I agree with it on a couple of key areas: we must not be misled by techno-optimism. Techno-optimism leads us to think that we can have a business-as-usual approach and just change the technology behind it. It also suggests we can have a one-for-one replacement of fossil-fuel cars with electric cars when, instead, the vast bulk of the replacement has to come from walking, cycling and good, affordable, reliable and convenient public transport.

Some of that techno-optimism lies in the idea of carbon capture and storage, which, rather like nuclear fusion, is a fantasy that has been receding decades into the distance for a very long time. Similarly, there is the idea of off-setting. I was at the Bonn climate talks three years ago, where there was an understanding that off-setting was dead. We need nature-based solutions; we need to grow many more trees and to treat our land very differently, but that is as well as slashing our carbon emissions, not as an alternative. It cannot be a trade-off.

Where I disagree with this report is on the goal of either net-zero carbon or zero carbon by 2050. I know your Lordships’ House has found this a very stark message, but I would say, as the science and the IPCC say, that we have to get to those levels by 2030. We need much faster change. I also very much disagree with a particular aspect of the language of this report. It talks about “lifestyle change”, which suggests a focus on how individual people behave. In fact, many people have no choices in changing their behaviour, because they are forced by the system to act the way that they do now. There is no point in telling people to leave their car at home and catch the bus if there is no bus service; it cannot be done. That is true in so many cases—people cannot afford the locally grown, organic food because it is more expensive. What we need is system change.

Perhaps to add further to the pessimism, the climate emergency is just one of the planetary limits that we are running up against. We are also trashing our planet with the nature crisis—of biodiversity and bioabundance —we are filling our oceans with plastic and we are destroying our soils. Behind all that are, essentially, externalised costs. Our current economic system is built on some people—big multinational companies, by and large—drawing large amounts of profit, with all of us carrying the weight of the cost of the climate emergency. We need system change, not climate change. We have seen growth as an alternative to equality: the poor get the crumbs; the pie gets bigger and so they get a few more crumbs. That cannot continue. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.

Instead of techno-optimism—and to shift in tone—I want political optimism. That is what we can offer. In a democratic system we can offer people a better life: the green new deal and a just transition. The Minister will be very familiar with the phrase “levelling up”. We are talking about levelling up for the inequality of the north and other areas of the UK. That has been seen to mean more stuff—more high-energy transport—but let us think about levelling up life across the UK with a four-day working week as standard with no loss of pay. That can cut carbon emissions and improve people’s lives. Let us level up with affordable, reliable, convenient public transport. Let us level up with warm, affordable homes for everybody. This is the political optimism we can offer the people in a democracy to make the change.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, for bringing COP 26 into this debate. This is the crucial position we are now in. What will the future remember about the United Kingdom? Almost nothing that has ever been said in this House, but if we deliver a successful COP 26 in Glasgow, it will be remembered as a crucial turning point in global history. If we fail, that also will be what history remembers about the United Kingdom. A number of noble Lords have referred to Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. To quote the Governor of Texas at the Bonn climate talks, “Donald Trump is not an excuse for any of you.”

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Browne, for tabling this important and timely debate. I declare my interests as an engineer in the energy industry, specialising in nuclear, and a director of the cross-party group Peers for the Planet.

I am a techno-optimist, unlike the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett. Maybe it is inherent in being an engineer. Oscar Wilde said:

“The basis of optimism is sheer terror”,

which feels appropriate in the context of the climate crisis. Although I believe the report’s approach is correct in looking at currently available technologies, there are two key omissions: first, viewing carbon capture and storage as a breakthrough rather than an incremental technology; and secondly, the nature of the absolute zero target due to the perceived lack of negative emissions options.

First, although the report is correct that carbon capture and storage technology is not yet being deployed at a meaningful scale, it is mature. I apologise for getting into the nuts and bolts somewhat, but a recent report from the Royal Society of Chemistry assessed the capture and transmission elements of CCS as being at a technology readiness level of 9, the highest available. The challenges are in the integration and scaling up of the technology.

It is quite common in these discussions to quote the glacial pace of previous energy transitions, a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Browne, as a reason that CCS cannot contribute to net zero, but in fact the current energy transition is proceeding at breakneck speed and will continue to do so. For example, gas went from a tiny fraction of our electricity generation mix to around 40% in less than 10 years. Wind got going only in the late 1990s, and look at where we are with that now. There is no reason why CCS cannot follow a similar path if the political will is there to do it. It is an oven-ready technology, as the Prime Minister might say.

Following on from CCS, bioenergy CCS is a negative emissions option currently being scaled up by industry, for example in the pilot at Drax power station. As with CCS, the key challenges are in the integration and scaling up of the technology. The Committee on Climate Change has done a lot of good work on bioenergy CCS. In its 2050 net-zero scenario, it estimates that bioenergy CCS could sequester around 35 megatonnes of CO2 per year, enough to counter the residual effects of the aviation industry. Afforestation can play a big part there as well.

The effect of these two technologies could really change the 2050 picture completely. The effects of cement and steel production would be mitigated because the emissions from those industries can be captured. Shipping and air travel could continue because their residual remissions can be offset by, for example, bioenergy CCS. Electricity production can increase through the use of CCS generation and an increase in the use of nuclear power, as the noble Lord, Lord Broers, mentioned. But that is not to underestimate the challenge. The Government need to move quickly by investing in CCS and getting pilot projects moving to define the commercial approach.

I turn now to talk briefly about the policy implications of CCS. Along with other firm power generation methods such as nuclear, which are needed for a least-cost electricity system, it suffers from being compared on a levelised cost of electricity basis with intermittent renewables, in terms of pounds per megawatt hour. The levelised cost of energy calculation is done at the point of generation, not at the point of use, so it does not take into account the system integration costs of intermittent generators, which are significant. The Committee on Climate Change estimates that these could be up to £20 per megawatt hour for high penetrations of renewables. Perhaps the Minister could comment on how the Government intend to address the shortcomings of levelised cost of energy metrics and move towards a level playing field for generation, because it is absolutely vital to recognise that not all generation technologies provide the same services to the system.

Lord Berkeley Portrait Lord Berkeley (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Browne for securing this debate and we have heard some very interesting speeches. I will focus on transport, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Birt, said, is one of the biggest current polluters. My worry is that a lot of us, as well as a lot of speakers in this debate, have focused on one or more new technologies, or possibly lifestyle changes, but we have to guard against focusing on the one solution that may cause us the least inconvenience. There are people in many other parts of the world at risk of drowning through weather events or suffering famine as well as everything else, which really has to be taken seriously.

Current government policies look like they will have a lot of catching up to do if they are to achieve what I think we all want as we move forward. Heavy funding is still going into new roads. The Government’s forecasts for traffic growth indicate that there will be an increase of 50% in traffic by 2050. We are looking at extra airport capacity. Why? We are looking at fuel duty, which has not gone up for many years while rail fares are rising. Why, if we want to encourage people on to rail? Where is the funding for buses, which are much more environmentally friendly than people driving around? Worst of all, while we rightly have endless debates about who is building more houses where, how are people supposed to get from those houses to their schools, offices, shops or wherever they want to go without a car? Public transport needs to be integrated with where people want to go.

We have an even greater problem with the movement of freight. We already have electric cars, but electric trucks bringing oranges from Spain are probably impossible at the moment. If they were possible, the cost of manufacturing the equipment would be very high. Cheaper rail fares and lower charges for rail freight would be a good thing, and perhaps the Government would like to follow the example of the German Government, who have just cut access charges for rail freight by 10%. I hope the Government will come up with some new policies on this before COP 26 in the autumn.

It is worth reminding ourselves that Friends of the Earth suggests that traffic reduction by 2030 should be somewhere between 20% and 60%. That is the opposite of going up by 50%. Surely that is something we should really be looking at much more seriously.

There is a great deal to be done on behaviour and the changes that will need to happen in our population growth, the nature and location of work, education, housing, healthcare and leisure. As the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, mentioned, digital technology is also very important. There is also paying for road use or electricity and possibly even reducing the need to travel in going about our business. Flying should increase in cost. We never mention shipping very much, but some of the emissions from ships need serious challenging as part of this campaign. We really need more rail travel for people—more stations and freight terminals—and to be aware, if we want hydrogen-producing transport, that it costs energy and electricity to make hydrogen. It is easy to go down one route and forget about how the rest of it will happen.

There needs to be a plan of action. As a colleague, Professor Anable of Leeds ITS, told me, we need traffic- reduction targets—not an increase, and not just for roads but for rail and air—and some real incentivisation to co-ordinate transport and planning objectives with the need to reduce travel. We need to do many other things, such as regulation and increasing investment in non-car modes, but it ends up as quite a change in lifestyle as an example to the rest of the world —which will be miles behind, if we are not careful.

Nuclear Power: Emissions

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the nuclear power capacity required to meet their target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing, I declare my interest as an engineer in the energy industry, as set out in the register.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, a substantial increase in low-carbon generation will be needed to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050. Nuclear power currently provides a fifth of our generation and will have an important role in securing a low-cost, stable, reliable low-carbon system by 2050. The Government will publish an energy White Paper in 2020, which will provide further detail of the necessary transformation of our energy system.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. Our current nuclear fleet is approaching the end of its working life and only a single new station is being built. We need much more than that to provide additional zero-carbon firm power and reduce the risk of not meeting net zero by 2050. Does the Minister agree that a key means of doing this at least cost is to focus on replication: building a number of the same design to learn lessons and gain efficiencies, rather than using a wide range of designs, as per the previous strategy? Can he confirm that the Government are prioritising a decision on the financing of new nuclear to enable the industry to move forward?

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait Lord Duncan of Springbank
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The simple answer to that question is yes, but more details are required. The first thing to remember is that by 2030 all but one nuclear power station will be closed.

The noble Lord’s second point is correct: we do need replication on a common theme to help us, but there are other factors too, not least of which is experienced management in the construction industry and sometimes constructing nuclear reactors in greater numbers on the same site. Each of these can make a significant difference, and in order for us to increase capacity we need, in the energy White Paper, to give serious consideration to them, at which point the decision-making will be made clear.

Net Zero Carbon Emissions

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Tuesday 29th October 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait Lord Duncan of Springbank
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We are anchored to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and we have our own climate change committee putting the science at the heart of our work. However, the challenge we face is that we alone cannot bring about the necessary steps, so this must be a global endeavour. We are living through a new geological age which has been termed the Anthropocene—we are bringing about change in our very own environment.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I declare an interest as an engineer in the nuclear industry. New nuclear and a reset of the strategy for achieving it is critical to zero carbon by 2050, being the only mature option for the zero-carbon baseload or non-variable power. Can the Minister provide some assurance that the Government will maintain their focus on new nuclear initiatives such as investment in small modular reactors and the regulated asset based funding model to enable new nuclear beyond Hinkley to move forward?

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait Lord Duncan of Springbank
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I am happy to assure the noble Lord that nuclear will remain part of our strategy. It is indeed a low-carbon approach. We are strongly committed to small modular reactors and right now we need a baseload to complement our renewable electricity supply.

Space Science and Technology

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Baroness Boycott Portrait Baroness Boycott (CB)
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My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for tabling the debate. As noble Lords know, we circled the moon before we landed on it, and on Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to leave the earth’s orbit. As the astronauts completed their circle of the moon, they saw in front of them an astounding sight: the exquisite blue sphere hanging in the blackness of space. They photographed it and the result was the image known as “Earthrise”. It is without a doubt one of the most profound events in the history of human culture and, without a doubt, an amazing photograph. For the first time we saw ourselves from a distance. Our earth, our home, in its surrounding dark emptiness, seemed not only infinitely beautiful but infinitely fragile and precious.

The photograph graced the cover of James Lovelock’s groundbreaking work Gaia. Lovelock showed us for the first time that everything on earth is connected, and that it is regulated for its own good and thus for our good as well. Rainforests, oceans and the soil beneath our feet ensure that that we have air to breathe, food to eat and natural resources from which to thrive. Initially, Lovelock’s view was pilloried and thought a hippy interpretation of the photograph, but now it is accepted science. “Earthrise” spurred many people to think differently. In 1970, the United States set up the Environment Protection Agency and in 1971 both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth were founded. Our own Department of the Environment followed in 1972.

Later in his life, William Anders, the astronaut who took the photograph, said:

“This is the only home we have and yet we're busy shooting at each other, threatening nuclear war and wearing suicide vests”.

It took our leaving the planet to fully understand how awesome and vulnerable it is. Sadly, we are still not learning the lesson. Some 50 years ago, the brilliance of humanity rose to the challenge laid down by President Kennedy when he said that man will go to the moon. We succeeded, triumphantly, so 50 years on, let us put that combined brilliance to work again to save the very precious world that we are all lucky enough to inhabit.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for tabling this debate. Project Apollo was and remains a great technical achievement of humankind. It has inspired millions around the world and it is an honour to have the opportunity to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landings today.

Everything about Apollo astounds. When President Kennedy set the goal of a manned moon landing in 1961, only a single American had flown in space on a suborbital flight, yet the President had the ambition—almost the audacity—to commit the nation to a moon landing before the end of the decade. The resulting machine, the Saturn V moon rocket, was the most powerful machine ever built.

I am a nuclear engineer. Designing nuclear reactors is not quite rocket science, although it gets close at times and makes me appreciate the engineering genius behind Apollo all the more. I remember how inspirational Apollo was to me as a child. Sadly, I cannot claim to recall where I was at the time of the moon landings, but I pored over the details of the mission. It played a key part in my decision to pursue a career in engineering. It is that ability to be inspired and excited by the future that gets children interested in science and engineering, as the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, pointed out. That is one of the great legacy benefits of the programme.

The dreams that many had in the 1960s about the future of space flight never quite transpired, yet we are at a critical juncture in the history of space flight, driven in the main by the development of reusable rockets by private industry in America. I believe they will transform the economics of space flight and will lead to many opportunities and growth in the sector. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo, it seems wholly appropriate that space is becoming really exciting again.

The UK has an excellent, thriving industry in the production of satellites, which the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, referred to. It would be really inspirational to get the capability to launch those satellites back in the UK. I note the really positive developments with spaceports in Cornwall and Scotland. Several private companies in the UK are looking at developing launch technology—for example, small launch vehicles and engines for reusable launch vehicles—and the Government should look closely at the funding of those efforts. Contracts to kick-start private investment in those areas could pay dividends, mirroring the approach used so successfully in America. There is an opportunity to capture that before it is lost to others.

I finish with something about the spirit of Apollo. It was a great endeavour, with the whole nation united to achieve a single goal. Maybe that same spirit is what we need to resolve the climate challenges of today.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I first congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and send good wishes for the People’s Moon project. I hope that the media give it the coverage it deserves and that it succeeds.

My locus in speaking in this debate is twofold. I hope it is not thought of as one-upmanship to say that I was in Downing Street on 14 October 1969 when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were received by Harold Wilson as part of the world tour that followed their journey to the moon. I have a son, James, who works in Munich as a space vehicle controller—a title that slightly worries me, but he assures me it is perfectly safe.

The past 50 years have seen an amazing movement forward in unmanned exploration. The noble Lord, Lord Rees, was right to draw attention to the fact that we were probably right: the brief we have had and “8 Days: To the Moon and Back” showed, perhaps more than we knew at the time, just how perilous that journey to the moon was.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, we really are going into a new space age, with lots of encouraging things happening—not least the work by Professor Brian Cox, which has been mentioned, Tim Peake and his adventures and successive Governments in the past 10 years giving legislative and investment support to our space industries.

There are, however, still things that worry me. The noble Lord, Lord Rees, mentioned the future of our participation in the European Space Agency. The Government must really make clear what their intentions and hopes are for our participation in the European Space Agency. I worry that we are moving away from:

“We came in peace for all mankind”.

The Chinese, the Russians, the United States and France all seem to be developing military capacity in space. What is the Government’s view of these dangers? A number of speakers have also talked about the environmental clean-up in space.

I was very interested in the comment from Buzz Aldrin in “8 Days: To the Moon and Back”. On the way back from the moon, he said that space travel would continue because of,

“the insatiable curiosity of all mankind”.

My son James has told me that what has inspired him more than anything else was that “Earthrise” image taken by Apollo 8—our earth suspended in the void. It is a reminder of both our urge to explore new frontiers and our responsibility to our fragile blue planet.

Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019

Lord Ravensdale Excerpts
Wednesday 26th June 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Lilley Portrait Lord Lilley
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Absolutely. That is what we ought to do in this House: look closely at these things. That does not mean to say we reject them. Unless we know the cost of this measure, which is potentially enormously costly, we are really buying a pig in a poke. I hope the House will focus on that point: should we go ahead and pass this without an impact assessment, or should we at least demand that the Treasury comes forward with such an impact assessment and a distributional assessment as soon as possible?

That distributional assessment is important, because these measures tend to fall disproportionately on low-income households. We have seen that in any country where the cost of climate change measures has come into political contention, those on modest incomes have tended to vote against them. We saw it in Australia and Canada; we have seen the gilets jaunes in France. We should beware and be aware that we are imposing large costs on ordinary households, and we should not go ahead and do that lightly and without knowledge of the figures.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as an engineer working in the energy industry.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, as noble Lords have already said, this target will involve significant technical challenges. I want to introduce a different slant to the debate today by talking about some of the technical challenges that will be need to be met, the key areas of uncertainty and the options for mitigating them. A comprehensive review of how this target will be met is critical and I hope to see more detail of this in the forthcoming energy White Paper.

The key risk areas we need to consider within the scope of the amendment are on-demand power generation and hydrogen. It is widely accepted that a 100% renewables power generation system is impracticable barring any unforeseen technical advances. This is partly due to the technological limitations of energy storage and the implications of grid stability with a variable power supply. A large amount of on-demand power will be required to counter the variability of renewables and there are two options for that at a high level—gas turbines with carbon capture and storage, or nuclear.

Gas turbines with carbon capture and storage are an attractive option to meet our commitments, but there are several uncertainties with large-scale carbon capture and storage. One uncertainty is the capture rates that are feasible with the technology—whether it can capture the amount of carbon that we need it to—and another is that the economic viability of the technology is still unknown. If capture rates are lower or the technology is more expensive than anticipated, alternatives will have to be sought to large-scale use of carbon capture and storage. It is critical that there is a pilot project from the Government to consider scaling up this technology and the viability of it in more detail.

The concerns are well known about the economic viability of nuclear compared with renewables. It is worth noting that the costs of large nuclear are currently less than the existing offshore wind capacity that has been built. However, the future offshore wind capacity will be cheaper than current large nuclear. It is difficult to make the comparison between nuclear and renewables because of the different characteristics of these technologies in terms of costs.

It is critical that the industry responds to the cost challenge set out in the nuclear sector deal and brings down the costs of nuclear from the £90 per megawatt hour we have seen with Hinkley to around £60 per megawatt hour. Given the doubts over whether large nuclear can deliver, we need to focus on several things to meet that cost challenge: first, small modular reactors, as a fallback and to complement large nuclear, are critical; and, secondly, advanced nuclear technology.

How will these technologies solve the cost issue with nuclear? The first way is through modularisation, which is inherent in small modular reactor design and is already used in other high safety integrity industries such as shipping and air transport. We need to look at moving the production of reactor modules to factories off-site to reduce the cost of reactor technology and to bring down the capital costs of nuclear plants. Secondly, with advanced nuclear, there are several designs out there which are passively safe, simpler and of a much higher thermal efficiency than existing plants and will help in that regard.

Government investment is required to see these promising designs through to fruition and to get them off the ground. On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, on what happened with offshore wind, we can replicate that with nuclear and use it to bring down the cost of the technology and help us meet our 2050 targets.

Hydrogen also has a key role to play in a net zero economy, whether through heating buildings, energy storage or fuel for heavy vehicles. However, there are many uncertainties about the best means of producing, distributing and storing hydrogen. For example, as has been pointed out by other noble Lords, the preferred means of production—steam methane reforming—will involve large-scale carbon capture and storage and the issues with that that I have pointed out.

Can the Minister say how the Government intend to de-risk these key areas of uncertainty—hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and nuclear—to ensure that the UK can meet the 2050 target as planned? The timing for large investments could not be more fortuitous in many ways, with the Government able to borrow for 50 years at less than 1.5%.

Lord Donoughue Portrait Lord Donoughue
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My Lords, I declare my interests as in the register. This massive proposal, which is imaginative and exciting in many ways, is being rushed through Parliament, partly because the departing Prime Minister has a desire for a legacy and partly because of the claimed emergency over climate change or global warming. I am in the minority as I was rather sympathetic to the Prime Minister on many things—but not on this issue.

On the latter issue, warming, we have certainly experienced a mild warming cycle for some 140 years, with carbon emissions playing a significant role in it. I have never questioned that. I listened carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Turner, but I cannot find any sudden acceleration. According to Met Office figures, the past 20 years show a rise of 0.3%, which is broadly in line with the whole cycle. It is slightly slower than the further warming in the last quarter of the 20th century, so it is of concern, but it is not a sudden emergency.

The excitement occurring now may arise from the forecasts by models of a boiling planet later this century. That may happen—anything may happen—and I understand people who want assurance, but so far there is no observational scientific evidence for it. Nearly all those models—there are more than 100 of them—have been deeply inaccurate so far and have been seriously biased towards overheating, sometimes by up to 300%. Interestingly, only the Russian model has been accurate for this syndrome, so these models should be treated with care.

There has quite rightly been much discussion of costs. The climate change committee’s prediction of a net benefit cost of £50 billion per annum by 2050 may be optimistic. Other outside estimates reject it; the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy puts the cost 40% higher, at £70 billion per annum. That was quoted by the Chancellor in his letter to the Prime Minister. All seem to agree that the total expenditure by 2050 will be more than £1 trillion. That seems testing. The committee’s figures seem to omit carbon taxes and renewable subsidies, amounting to around £1 trillion, and the decarbonising of heat by refurbishing all houses. I should point out that that figure was from a respectable sectoral energy institute, which is why it was quoted. I find the total financial liability falling on consumers and taxpayers very complex to account for, but it is likely to be huge and perhaps larger. Equally, it could perhaps be smaller. We do not know, as the climate committee admits.

As an infrastructure project, this revolutionary programme involves greater public expenditure than any done by this country since we committed to fighting the Second World War. It inevitably involves massive disruption to our existing economy. There will certainly be benefits—I accept that—but it will create a new and potentially more expensive energy base, and worsen our export competitiveness by raising costs. It would probably close, or export, our existing high-energy consuming industries—steel, engineering, cement et cetera—and if it does, it will hit jobs and living standards. The idea of a cleaner environment is commendable, and I have always supported it, but these are huge costs.

We have to ask, as the Chancellor did in his letter to the Prime Minister, which areas of public expenditure may have to suffer the costs to pay for it. Will health, social care, schools or defence be cut to shoulder that burden? My Labour colleagues, in particular, may wish to consider that. Will it be, as is the case with the £15 billion in current climate costs, that the working people of this country carry the main burden, relative to their incomes, through paying significantly higher energy costs and green taxes to subside renewables? I note that the committee seems to appreciate that problem and I will be interested in the Government’s response to it.

The climate change revolution is predominantly a professional-class religion where the main cost is paid by working people who often do not share the faith. The noble Lord, Lord Deben, claimed that most people are on his side. There is no evidence for that. Polls have long shown that working people do not massively support this project, and they have not yet heard of these proposed new burdens. Whatever noble Lords’ feelings about decarbonisation—I sense that most people probably like the general idea because they rightly, like me, dislike pollution and want a better environment—they must surely agree that it is irresponsible of the Government to push through this massive and not fully-considered project in a statutory instrument without serious assessment of the practicality of its proposed details or costs, and where those costs will fall. Surely with such a massive project we can wait until the Treasury—or perhaps, as I would like to see, an independent inquiry chaired by the Treasury followed by full parliamentary scrutiny—reports to us. This project must be properly handled by the Government, positively, with concern for our future environment but also with responsible concern for its technological and financial practicality, and the livelihoods of our working people.

My final, and even more worrying, point is about the cavalier way in which this costly adventure has been launched. It is being proposed on a single-nation basis—not that that is its ideal, but it is there. The UK is apparently to be prepared to do this with no guarantees of the global environmental benefits, thus offering virtue-signalling moral leadership to the whole world. That is dangerous. Our share of global emissions is just over 1%. If we alone decarbonise tomorrow, that is the amount by which global carbon emissions will diminish, yet in the next few years China and India alone—the great carbon emitters—will increase their carbon emissions by more than double that share. Our contribution will be swamped and carbon emissions will still rise, but at what economic cost to the working people of this country?

Pursuing zero carbon in Britain alone while the big emitters continue to pollute the atmosphere on a massive scale is a futile gesture of moral imperialism. No doubt the virtue signallers have good intentions—I have never questioned that—but, as an earlier politician wisely said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We should mobilise the present environmental energy to encourage the great economies of the world to look seriously at the scientific facts on climate change, not at the alarmist propaganda, and then, in a measured way in conjunction with the observational evidence, move towards a time when carbon emissions are more limited. However, that world discipline and its benefits must be guaranteed and not based on delusional hopes. There should be no false paper promises based on ill-supported forecasts, like the Paris agreement.

Until then, our Government must take their national duties responsibly, scrutinising any climate venture with care, checking the observational facts of the science and allowing into the process sensible sceptics asking questions—as was traditionally done under Enlightenment science—and not behaving, as the BBC now sadly does, like a Stalinist censor, excluding any informed sceptic who questions wilder climate fantasies. I say to the BBC that working people will not have much extra revenue to buy their licences if all these proposals go through. Above all, the Government must scrutinise properly. We may eventually wish to enter this revolution but must first agree on whether it will pragmatically achieve its shared purpose, what it will cost and who will pay for it.