Latest update from the Minister 15th September 2016 - read here

 

Many constituents have contacted me recently about nuclear power and renewable energy.

The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the Government still believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix. The Nuclear Industrial Strategy, published in 2013 in partnership with industry, establishes a long term approach for the sector to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in this country.

A power station at Hinkley Point has the potential to reduce the UK's carbon emissions, bring billions of private investment into the UK economy and create around 25,000 jobs at the peak of construction. It will provide a clean source of home-grown energy, providing 7 per cent of the country's energy needs.

In relation to safety, I have been assured by Ministers that no deal would be signed if safety and security was thought to be at risk. The UK has robust regulations in place, enforced by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, which cover sensitive nuclear information as well as holdings of nuclear material and nuclear sites. All nuclear sites in the UK, regardless of who builds them, must comply with UK regulations and the strict rules that are in place on how nuclear plants are operated. An independent report in 2011 by the UK's Chief Nuclear Inspector concluded that Britain's safety regime is one of the most robust in the world and is working effectively.

As you are aware, the Government will now consider carefully the different parts of the Hinkley Point project and a decision will be made in the early autumn.

With regards to renewable energy sources, affordable, reliable, clean energy is critical to our economy, our national security, and to family budgets. The Government is delivering on its promise to secure a long-term, low-carbon future in all areas of electricity generation. More than £52 billion has been invested in renewables, nuclear, and Carbon Capture technology since 2010.   It is not satisfactory that the dirtiest fossil fuel - coal - is still a major part of our power generation. The UK will be one of the first developed countries to take coal out of the equation, with the recent announcement that all coal-fired power stations where carbon emissions aren't being captured and stored will be closed by 2025. The Government will oversee the building of a new, clean energy infrastructure that is fit for the 21st century.  

Government support has driven down the cost of renewable energy. Solar, for example, has seen costs fall by 80 per cent over the past 15 years, and I think it is right that subsidies should be reduced in line with falling costs.

Government support should help low-carbon technologies to stand on their own two feet, rather than create dependence on public subsidies, which ultimately drive bills up for consumers. It is encouraging that 98 per cent of all solar deployment has taken place since 2010 and the UK now has enough solar to power almost 2 million homes. It is also the most attractive market in the world for investment in offshore wind. 

Renewable electricity capacity in the UK has trebled since 2010. Over a fifth of electricity was generated from renewables in 2015, which puts the UK firmly on track to reach its ambition of 30 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

We are making good progress towards our 15 per cent renewable energy target for 2020. Britain not only met, but actually exceeded, the most recent interim target, reaching 6.3 per cent of energy from renewable sources compared with the target of 5.4 per cent. I take this to be a good indicator of progress.   Meeting our targets is by no means easy and more needs to be done. I welcome the fact that Ministers are working across Government to achieve this and coordinating efforts between the Departments for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Transport, and Food and Rural Affairs.