Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has been accused of contradicting David Cameron over the potential of technology to limit carbon dioxide emissions.
Ms Rudd told MPs that carbon capture and storage (CCS) has an “important future” and a “difficult” decision was taken to scrap the £1 billion CCS fund – a competition which aimed to find ways to limit pollution from power stations.
Last month, Prime Minister Mr Cameron said decisions had to be made about “technology that works and technology that isn’t working” as he insisted the right choice was made to end the CCS project.
The Government sparked fury when it cancelled a £1billion CCS project that could have seen Peterhead power station become the location for Shell’s carbon capture and storage project.
But the SNP renewed its attack on the Government’s scrapping of the scheme following Ms Rudd’s remarks, with energy and climate change spokesman Callum McCaig telling the Commons: “The Prime Minister said it wasn’t working but the secretary of state says it will work, so one of them is clearly wrong.”
The Aberdeen South MP also questioned why £250 million of taxpayers’ cash is being used to support small-scale nuclear reactors when Mr Cameron suggested this technology is working.
Addressing the CCS fund, Mr McCaig told Ms Rudd: “The Prime Minister said to me at Prime Minister’s Questions you have to make decisions about technology that works and technology which is not working.
“How was that assessment made given that the competition had not yet been completed?”
Ms Rudd replied: “I would say that we don’t rule out carbon capture and storage in the future.
“This Government has made substantial investment through our entrepreneur fund in early start carbon capture and storage, we have industrialised carbon capture and storage projects working, operating and testing in Teesside.
“The fact is the decision was made not to have a £1 billion investment, it was a difficult decision made in a difficult spending round but we recognise that carbon capture and storage will still have an important future in a low-carbon economy.”
Mr McCaig then noted: “The Prime Minister said it wasn’t working but the secretary of state says it will work, so one of them is clearly wrong.”
He added to Ms Rudd: “In his list of technology that was working, the Prime Minister included small-scale nuclear reactors.
“Can I ask you where this technology is working and if it’s working as the Prime Minister would claim, why does it require £250 million of taxpayers’ money?”
Ms Rudd replied: “I think I can bring together some of your questions by highlighting the investment that we’re making in innovation.
“Innovation is an area where we think we can see great steps forward in renewable energy and in technology that will help to develop important new technologies to develop on renewable energy.
“For instance in Paris, Mission Innovation, different countries came together to agree to double their investment in this area and I believe carbon capture and storage and small modular reactors will benefit from that investment going forward.”