Advanced Modular Reactors: Criticality Tests

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 19th March 2024

(2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Viscount makes a very good point. Can my noble friend the Minister explain why Japan’s high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology, endorsed by my right honourable friend Greg Hands in 2021—which is inherently safe, internationally licensed and has been operating for more than 10 years—has been consigned to the back burner as part of the AMR research, development and demonstration programme? This technology needs to be brought forward into the GDA process now, or it will be too late to make its much-needed contribution to the decarbonisation of industry.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I refer my noble friend to the answer I gave to my noble friend Lady Bloomfield. We have selected high-temperature gas reactors for research and development purposes in the AMR R&D and demonstration programme.

Cleaner Energy Technologies

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 14th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We give a value to carbon and use that to inform our policies, not least through the ETS. We have supported a number of early-stage technologies. Offshore wind was extremely expensive when we first started supporting it; now it is very cost-competitive and we are confident that we will end up in the same position on hydrogen.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that the only way even to get close to the net-zero targets is to make major changes to the current energy policies to enable a substantial increase in both the number and speed of deployment of nuclear reactors?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I certainly agree with my noble friend that we need to expand both the potential and the deployment of nuclear reactors, and we are doing just that. We recently passed the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, for which I am grateful for the House’s support. We have invested several hundred million pounds in the new Sizewell plant and are supporting Rolls-Royce to develop the next generation of small modular reactors.

Energy White Paper

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Monday 28th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I understand the concern in north Wales about this issue but Hitachi made it clear that withdrawing from the Wylfa project is a commercial decision that it has taken for its own domestic and business reasons. We understand that it is disappointing. We remain willing to discuss any new nuclear projects with any viable companies and investors wishing to develop sites in the UK, including that at Wylfa.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con) [V]
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My Lords, following on from the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, repeated delays in the publication of the energy White Paper and the failure to publish a response to the consultation on a regulated asset base model for nuclear that closed nearly a year ago have contributed to the doubt and uncertainty surrounding the Government’s future commitment to new nuclear projects, such as that at Wylfa. Does the Minister agree that it is now crucial that the Government send an urgent message to the Japanese Government saying that they are committed to working with them to develop a framework under which the project that was supposed to provide 7% of our electricity by the mid-2020s can be revived as a UK-Japan joint project?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I just said, the decision taken by Hitachi was a commercial one. We totally agree that nuclear power will play a key role in the UK’s future energy mix as we transition to a low-carbon economy, and we already support investments in small and advanced modular reactors.

Renewable Energy

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 15th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a very good point. I hope we will see more hydrogen-powered buses in the front so that we do not miss them. We have an excellent hydrogen strategy. We are investing considerable sums in developing hydrogen. We will have further announcements to make on the subject.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con) [V]
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Does the Minister not regret that the recommendations fail to take account of the importance of nuclear power as a reliable, firm, low-carbon baseload element in our energy mix? Should the Government not immediately inform the Japanese Government and Hitachi that they consider it of the utmost importance to revive the Horizon nuclear power station project at Wylfa, Ynys Môn? Will my noble friend also confirm that the Government still intend to contribute to its funding through the construction phase, which would greatly lower the cost of electricity generated? Given the likelihood that Hitachi will cancel the project tomorrow, should the Government not acquire the Horizon site to preserve options for its future?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I said in previous answers, I agree with my noble friend that new nuclear can play a role as we seek to transition to net zero. It is the only technology that is currently proven, and can be deployed on a sufficiently large scale, to provide continuous low-carbon power. We will be prepared to support further new nuclear projects in the years ahead if they can show that they provide value for money. We continue to engage with all developers.

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 29th July 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My noble friend is correct; my information is also that there is currently only one company taking part in the moratorium process, so it is too early to say how the measure will proceed. Clearly the role of the monitor is crucial, but as I said, we will review the effectiveness of these provisions in due course.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, on 23 June, the Minister told your Lordships’ House that he would monitor the operation of the moratorium closely once the Act came into force and that he would not hesitate to take action if it was required. It is clear from his Answer to my noble friend that action is required. Besides the very sensible proposal by my noble friend to extend the purposes of a moratorium to include the rescue of a business, rather than of a company as a legal entity, does the Minister not also agree that the exclusion of companies that have issued bonds amounting to £10 million has significantly and unnecessarily restricted uptake of the new provisions?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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We are monitoring the operation closely, but as currently only one company is in the process, it really is too early to say how it will work. The exclusion relating to bonds is to protect financial stability. A moratorium could impact on the rating of those bonds and therefore the exclusion ensures the effective functioning of financial markets.

Covid-19: British Business Bank

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Thursday 30th April 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I thank the noble Baroness for that suggestion, but the British Business Bank’s finance hub already provides full details on CBILS and our other loan guarantee schemes, including all details of accredited lenders. In addition, businesses may use one of the BBB’s designated online referral platforms, which may help them to find finance providers offering the product they are looking for.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as shown in the register. Under the British Business Bank’s revised eligibility guidelines, start-up companies whose losses have been financed by share- holders through long-term loans are ruled ineligible under EU state aid rules, which define companies whose accumulated losses exceed half their paid-in capital as “undertakings in difficulty”. That is the case even when they turn profitable and their accounts have been signed off as going concerns. Does the Minister not agree that the BBB should allow lenders to apply more flexible eligibility criteria to companies carrying long-term debt, which is in effect a form of capital, and that the EU definition of many such companies is misleading and inappropriate?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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We are constantly reviewing the loan guarantee schemes to make sure that as many businesses as possible can benefit from them. That is why we made the changes that I referred to earlier in the week. As I said to an earlier questioner, although the UK has left the EU, under the terms of the withdrawal agreement we are still subject to EU state aid rules.

Covid-19: Business Interruption Loans

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 22nd April 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My noble friend asked two good questions. We are aware of her first point about vetoes, and are considering it closely as we work out the further details of the scheme. As regards her second point, private investor capital lent alongside the government capital will not qualify for EIS relief.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as set out in the register. I regret that the Government’s intention to rescue sound businesses whose income has suddenly and completely dried up through the provision of CBILS loans has been less effective than intended as a result of the 20% personal guarantee requirement of some lenders, as pointed out by my noble friend Lord Forsyth. Does the Minister agree that a reduction of the personal guarantee requirement to 10% might make a considerable difference to the conversion rate of loan applications to lifelines extended?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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We have made some changes to the scheme so that no personal guarantees are permitted for loans of below £250,000. For loans above that level, lenders are permitted, at their discretion, to require personal guarantees for up to 20% of the remaining loan value. They are never permitted to use directors’ primary personal residences as security, and of course lenders may turn to personal guarantees only post the recovery of business assets. That is a balanced approach which protects CBILS borrowers but, like many other aspects of these schemes, this is something that we will keep under constant review.