(5 months, 3 weeks ago)Westminster Hall
(5 months, 3 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
(7 months, 2 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
Of the Government’s planned six nuclear sites, so far we have the most expensive plan in the world at Hinkley, Toshiba has walked away from Moorside, and now Hitachi is giving up on Wylfa and Oldbury. Instead of relying on a Chinese state company to deliver the remining two nuclear sites, is it time for the Government to follow the private sector and ditch that outdated technology? 
(11 months ago)Commons Chamber
Is it still not the point, as the Minister has said, that there needs to be greater flexibility, that the market needs to evolve and that he could therefore still be more ambitious with these regulations? If he is tying changes to state aid in the regulations to effectively temporary measures regarding coronavirus, it is quite clear that that is about flexibility and how he could approach that. Could he not have been a bit more ambitious with what is in these regulations?
I think we are in agreement across the Chamber for once. Obviously the pumped aspect can use electricity when there is low demand, so electricity can be taken at a cheaper price and used to pump water up to fill the hydro, and then the hydro can be used when there is peak demand, so it works both sides of the equation.
Paragraph 8.1 of the explanatory memorandum references the European Union, but then is silent on the issue of leaving the EU, because it states:
“This instrument does not relate to withdrawal from the European Union”.
However, I would suggest that the operation of the capacity market does relate to withdrawal from Europe. Paragraph 7.1 confirms that capacity is also provided by “interconnection with other countries.” The right hon. Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) has given his view on that interconnection. The regulations do still relate to leaving the EU. Will the Minister tell us what the current position is? Once again, it looks as though there will be a possible no-deal crash-out on 31 December. How will the UK participate in the single energy market?
Today, I checked the UK Government guidance on trade and energy from 1 January 2021 onwards. It was last updated on 6 November 2019, but basically it puts all the onus on the energy operators. The Government advise:
“Although it is a matter for individual businesses to work out what steps they need to take, the government anticipates these may include…interconnector owners/operators will need to continue to work with their stakeholders and regulators to prepare alternative trading arrangements and updated rules…interconnector owners/operators will need to continue to engage with the relevant EU national regulators to understand their processes for the potential reassessment of their Transmission System Operator certifications.”
Given how important energy is for us and that interconnectors are an agreed integral part of the capacity market, why is the latest UK Government guidance still effectively saying that traders are left to their own devices looking ahead to this critical deadline of 31 December 31/1 January? What discussions has the Minister had with energy suppliers? Where are we on a free trade agreement for energy, looking forward?
It seems to me that the regulations are yet again part of a drip-feed approach to energy policy. This has been touched on by the shadow Minister, and the Minister alluded to the White Paper coming forward, but we need definitive timescales for when we are going to see the White Paper. It would be good to get a better feel for what the White Paper is going to be. Given that year delay, it would be nice to at least have a forewarning or an understanding of what is going to be in it.
We know that the economy has taken a massive hit because of coronavirus. Despite the title of the regulations, they only skim the effects of coronavirus. It has been rumoured that the White Paper will cover that, so it would be good if the Minister could say, “The White Paper will cover the effects of coronavirus and how we are going to re-stimulate the economy.” Hopefully, that will be with a green industrial revolution. I suggest that will need to include more onshore wind, more offshore wind and greater support for floating offshore. I have mentioned pumped hydro storage, hydrogen production and carbon capture, which are all vital strategies that we need the Government to get on with. I hope that we hear a bit about that and that the Minister can answer some of the questions I have raised. There is effectively nothing wrong with what has been brought forward, but it is just not enough; we want to see more.
(1 year, 2 months ago)Westminster Hall
(1 year, 2 months ago)Westminster Hall
One of the key themes in the Just Transition Commission and the moves towards net zero has been carbon capture development. There have been requests that the Government support far more than one cluster. The suggestion from the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie) was for five clusters. Can the Minister outline where the Government are going on that issue?
(1 year, 6 months ago)Commons Chamber
The National Audit Office report confirms that the UK Government have not analysed the costs and benefits of fracking and do not know how much money they have actually spent supporting fracking. Governance and regulation risks remain, as well as decommissioning liabilities that need to be resolved. Is it not time that the UK Government followed the lead of the Scottish Government and decided not to support the development of unconventional oil and gas?
The Minister keeps saying he is an optimist, but it seems to me, from the answers he is giving us, that he is living in a parallel universe when it comes to timescales and managing this process. Let us try again. He says that, if the withdrawal agreement does not go through this week, the Prime Minister will ask for an extension on Thursday. What we have been trying to tell him is that debating the SI next week is after Thursday and therefore pointless. So what reasons will the Prime Minister give for a long extension on Thursday?
6. If he will make an assessment of the potential merits of the recommendations contained in the Scottish Government document, Scotland’s place in Europe: assessment of UK Government’s proposed future relationship with the EU. 
(3 years ago)Commons Chamber