HC Deb 03 December 1951 vol 494 c2006
16. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what planned additional megowattage will become available in each of the years 1951 and 1952 under the power-house expansion programme in the United Kingdom; how much additional coal will thereby be required for power-house consumption; and what steps are in hand to assure a proper balance in the capital development plans of the National Coal Board and the British Electricity Authority.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

As the answer must necessarily be long and contains many figures, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply: The plan approved for the British Electricity Authority was to commission 1,100 megawatts this year and 1,250 megawatts in 1952. When allowance has been made for plant going out of service, this should have given a net addition this year of over 1,000 megawatts and one of about 1,100 megawatts in 1952. Shortages of raw materials and the needs of defence may prevent these totals being reached, but I hope that at least 1,000 megawatts of new plant will be commissioned this year. B.E.A. power stations consumed 31½ million tons of coal in 1950 and may consume about 35 million tons in 1951 and about 38 million tons in 1952, the increases being the result of the general increase in demand for electricity. But this increase in consumption will be less in proportion than the increased supply of electricity produced. This is because the new stations being commissioned are used for 24 hours in the day and make it possible to restrict to shorter periods the use of older stations which are much less efficient and use much more coal to produce the same amount of electricity. Actually, if there were no increase in demand, the introduction of new stations would result in less coal being consumed. To illustrate this, a full year's working of the 1,000 megawatts of plant which, I hope, will be commissioned this year, will give a net saving of about 300,000 tons of coal, and a full year's working of the 1,250 megawatts planned for next year, together with the 100 megawatts left over from this year, should give an additional net saving of the order of 500,000 tons. But demand is increasing, and, for the time being, the only alternative to more and more load shedding is to continue using the old power stations at peak periods to meet demands which could otherwise not be met at all, that is, would be shed. Thus, so long as demand for electricity increases at its present rate, savings in coal produced by the introduction of new, efficient stations, though great, are not sufficient to outweigh the increase in consumption to meet the extra demand. The programmes of development of the National Coal Board and the British Electricity Authority are settled in consultation with me and there is full opportunity to see that as far as possible there is a proper balance.