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4 Nov 2008 : Column 458Wcontinued
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of whether the UK will meet the Renewables Obligation to deliver 15 per cent. of all its energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The renewables obligation is the Government's key mechanism for encouraging renewable electricity generation. It will therefore play a key part in meeting the 2020 target but we will need a range of other measures as the EU 2020 target is for renewable energy not just electricity. The European Commission has proposed for the UK to have a 15 per cent target. of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020. This will be confirmed when the renewable energy directive is agreed. The Government have committed to publishing a UK renewable energy strategy once the renewables directive has been agreed next spring on how to meet the UK's share of the EU 2020 renewables target. The consultation document made clear that the EU 2020 target required a step change in our policies to deliver 15 per cent. of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. The consultation on the draft renewable energy strategy therefore set out a wide range of potential measures including new and expanded financial support mechanisms for electricity, heat, transport and small scale generation as well as the approach on tackling key constraints such as planning, grid and supply chain. The consultation document was placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Final decisions on how the renewables obligation and other policies will be implemented to meet the renewable energy target will be set out in the final UK renewable energy strategy next spring.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether solar photovoltaics will form part of the renewable energy strategy to be published in 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have recently completed our consultation on the draft renewable energy strategy and will be considering responses to it carefully. Within the overall framework the Government put in place, the market will determine what technologies are deployed. We are certainly taking the potential role of solar photovoltaics into account.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment his Department has made of the potential for future UK exports of integrated solar photovoltaics; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has committed over £41 million to support the photovoltaic industry since 2000 through the Major Demonstration PV programme and field trials. The photovoltaic industry currently benefits from the £86 million Low Carbon Buildings programme, along with other small scale technologies. Electricity generated from solar PV is also eligible for support under the renewables obligation (RO), which is the Government's main mechanism for encouraging new renewable electricity generation. Generators currently receive one renewable obligation certificate (ROC) for every lMWh of renewable electricity. Under reforms to the RO, we are proposing that solar PV receive two ROCs per MWh.
In addition, in developing the renewable energy strategy the Government have been looking again at financial support mechanisms for renewable electricity to ensure that these technologies can maximise generation at all scales. We recently announced the Government's view that a feed-in tariff for small-scale generation can play an important role alongside the renewables obligation for large-scale projects. We plan to bring an amendment to the Energy Bill to make this happen.
These measures should help the photovoltaic industry to continue to develop in the UK and to take decisions on international developments.
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking in conjunction with EU partners to help promote and facilitate the development of Concentrated Solar Power stations in the desert regions of North Africa; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK supports article 5(9) of the draft EU Renewable Energy Directive, which allows renewable energy generated by new installations outside the EU, to count towards member state renewable energy targets if it is consumed within the EU. We also support the intention that the directive should incentivise deployment of renewable technologies, outside the EU as well as inside.
Concentrated solar power stations based outside the EU might be an effective way of meeting some of our renewable energy needs, although a number of issues, including the cost of building the high voltage direct current grid that would be a necessary part of such a project, as well as the security of any such installation over such large distances, will need to be discussed and addressed.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the average waiting time is for (a) heating and (b) insulation installations under the Warm Front scheme; and how many households were on the waiting list for such installations in each of the last six months. 
Joan Ruddock: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Hepburn) on 8 July 2008, Official Report, column 1476W.
Contractual timelines for insulation and heating for the Warm Front scheme are less than 40 and 120 days respectively. Average timelines over the first two quarters of this year (1 April-30 September 2008) were ahead of the contractual requirement at 38 and 63 days respectively. All of the households referred to in the answer given to my hon. Friend were on the waiting list for such installations in each of the last six months.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assistance his Department makes available under the Warm Front Scheme to park home residents. 
Joan Ruddock: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Wallace) on 15 October 2008, Official Report, column 1223W.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the operation of sections (a) 1 and (b) 2 of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000; what recent representations he has received on the operation of the Act; if he will place in the Library copies of such representations; and whether he plans (i) to amend and (ii) to repeal this Act. 
Joan Ruddock: Section 1 of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act provides the Secretary of State with a power to define fuel poverty. This power has not been exercised because since the fuel poverty strategy was published the Government have relied on the following definition:
A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate level of warmth (usually defined as 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms).
The broad definition of spending on fuel adopted in the measurement of fuel poverty also includes spending on water heating, lights and appliances and cooking.
Section 2 of the Act contains the substance of the Secretary of States duties to tackle fuel poverty which includes preparing and publishing a strategy, implementing that strategy and keeping the strategy under review.
From the strategy the Government have implemented a package of measures, set target dates and published annual progress reports. The strategy and annual reports help to communicate to stakeholders on progress and the challenges faced. In this sense, section 2 is an effective provision in ensuring the Governments approach to tackling fuel poverty is transparentas Parliament intended.
Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged brought a claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State alleging a continuing failure to perform his duties in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. The case was dismissed on 23 October. The Government remain committed to tackling fuel poverty. While recent energy prices have made the challenge more difficult, we keep the position under constant examination and develop our approach as the situation changes.