HC Deb 30 June 1952 vol 503 cc17-8
30. Mr. J. T. Price

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on the steps being taken by his Department to utilise more effectively the nation's coal resources with particular reference to inefficient stoking of industrial plants, failure to harness exhaust steam to the electrical grid and bad siting of power stations.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

As the answer is necessarily somewhat long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Price

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if we could release for export between 30 and 40 million tons of coal it would go a long way towards solving our economic difficulties? Will he therefore impress upon the industry and everybody who uses fuel that every factory which belches black smoke into the sky and every power station which raises the temperature of a river by 5 degrees is wasting our resources and ought to be restrained in the national interest?

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend invite the hon. Gentleman to read the OFFICIAL REPORT of our lengthy debate on this topic on 7th March, when all these matters were adequately ventilated?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the stocks he intends to allow industry during the coming winter, and will he consider whether, if they go much above their normal target, which they have already reached, it will not encourage industry to economise as they should?

Mr. Lloyd

I quite appreciate that.

Following is the answer:

The Ministry's Scientific Branch is conducting research into new uses of fuel, new methods of generating and transmitting power, and the utilisation of marginal or hitherto untapped sources of energy. Scientific developments in the whole field of fuel and power are also being studied.

The Ministry has a complement of about 170 fuel engineers and technicians who give practical advice both to industrial and non-industrial establishments on measures to secure the best use of fuel and power. Sixteen mobile units, equipped with instruments, are available for detailed surveys to enable heat losses to be detected and remedies prescribed.

Ministry technicians are continually visiting firms to give instruction on correct methods of firing and boiler control to stokers on their own firing floors. Special demonstrations and lectures are organised for stokers in the various regions, and a "Stoker's Manual" (H.M.S.O., price 6d.) has been published. Collaboration between the Ministry and the educational authorities has resulted in courses in boiler-house practice being included as a normal part of the syllabus of technical colleges and institutes. Proposals for improving the efficiency of industrial stoking are under consideration by my Fuel Efficiency Advisory Committee.

The British Electricity Authority and the National Coal Board are now experimenting with pithead generation to utilise coal which would not otherwise be usable, and the construction of the super grid will make it possible to generate at the coalfields a much larger proportion than at present of the electricity now consumed in the south-east of England.

It is the policy of the Government and of the British Electricity Authority to encourage the development of joint steam and electricity production where it is likely to be economically justified and technically feasible. No satisfactory way, however, has yet been found of producing electricity as abundantly and as efficiently as the large power station does without at the same time wasting the heat from the condensers.

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