Every day I speak to families concerned by the rising cost of living. They tell me that it is energy bills that are hitting the hardest. Government action on bills is focussed on keeping the increases as low as possible and investing in secure supplies of energy for our grandchildren.
The carbon based energy sources much of the ‘developed world’ has relied upon for decades are becoming more difficult to extract, more expensive to buy, and are frequently affected by the swings of an increasingly volatile international energy market.
If we are to liberate households from rising energy prices, we must first liberate our energy supply from international energy markets. To do this we must develop a comprehensive domestic energy package, drawing on a range sources of energy including renewable technologies. This week we debated the Energy Bill – a plan for renewing our ageing energy infrastructure so that it is fit for the future. This is as important for jobs, especially manufacturing jobs in high energy industries, as it is for households.
In an uncertain world, by generating more of our own energy in our own country we will be able to insulate ourselves from shocks in international energy prices.
The Coalition Government has introduced a raft of policies to reduce our dreadful waste of energy. The Green Deal enables homes to fund energy efficiency measures. The Electricity Market Reform (EMR) programme and the Green Investment Bank, are designed to encourage investment in energy production and energy efficiency products.
This investment in clean domestic energy sources is paying off – renewable energy production in the UK grew by 27% last year alone. Over 10% of the energy now supplied in the UK comes from renewable sources.
Every week in my constituency I see people choosing to use government schemes to create a more sustainable future for themselves and their communities. This week I visited Penair School in Truro and their inspiration project of turning food, green and paper waste into energy. Investment in a biomass boiler will save them £13,000 each year in waste disposal charges alone.
I am seeing the growth of companies developing and installing renewable energy across my constituency, growing high quality and sustainable jobs at the same time. From Mount Wellington a former tin mine and centre for renewable heat technology to FabTest in Falmouth, which uses the calm waters of the Fal to test the efficiency and functionality of new marine energy technologies.
Many people, whilst supportive of renewable energy technologies, have understandable concerns and objections to inappropriate onshore wind turbine developments and large scale solar farms.
I welcomed the Governments guidance to Cornwall Council this week that put communities in the driving seat as decisions on future wind turbine applications are made. Communities hosting on shore wind should benefit from lower electricity bills and investment in their community too. Energy Minister Greg Barker MP, in his recent to Truro made it clear that solar panels should be on rooftops and brownfield sites not on productive farmland.