HC Deb 01 February 1960 vol 616 cc614-5
22. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Power if he will give an approximate estimate, on the basis of figures supplied to him for Table 112 of his Statistical Digest, of the amount of fuel oil consumed by dual-fired electricity generating stations in 1959 or in any recent convenient 12 month period.

Mr. Wood

Just over 3 million tons of oil were used in dual-fired boilers in 1959, out of a total fuel oil consumption at power stations of approximately 4 million tons.

Mr. Cronin

In view of the state of the coal industry, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure that in future the amount of fuel oil consumed by dual-fired power stations is kept to the minimum?

Mr. Wood

I said in the debate last week that I was considering possible further modification of the programme for power stations. I take this opportunity of apologising for misleading hon. Members when, in answer to the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee), I said that the total possible displacement of the use of oil in power stations would benefit coal to the extent of 4 million tons. In fact, it would mean that 4 million tons of oil would not be burnt which would benefit coal to the extent of about 7½ million tons.

29. Mr. Lee

asked the Minister of Power what was the prospective shortage of British coal for power generation, as then estimated by the National Coal Board, which compelled the former Central Electricity Authority in 1955, with the support of the Government, to adopt a programme for oil burning at a number of power stations; what were the subsequent revisions of these estimates, and the reasons therefor; and what was the nature and coal equivalent of the original and revised oil-burning programmes.

Mr. Wood

In 1955, it was estimated that the total fuel requirement of the power stations in 1965 would be about 12 million tons more than the available electricity coal. This gap altered during the next few years as the result of changes in the estimated total fuel requirements of the power stations, the availability of coal for them and the nuclear programme. It has now been eliminated. The original oil conversion programme provided for the consumption of about 5½ million tons of oil (equivalent to 9 million tons of coal) in 1965; the modifications already made to the programme have reduced this to 3 million tons of oil (equivalent to 5½ million tons of coal).

Mr. Lee

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He has made it clear that this programme was not originated because of any superior economic qualities of oil as distinct from coal. His Answer shows that as the National Coal Board is now in very great trouble there is no economic reason why we should not switch over as fast as we can to coal burning in these stations.

35. Mr. Lee

asked the Minister of Power what plans have been drawn up by the Central Electricity Generating Board to convert present or planned oil-burning power stations to coal burning.

Mr. Wood

The Generating Board is discussing with the oil companies concerned a possible modification of its long-term contracts for oil supplies, and I cannot say more while these discussions are in progress.

Mr. Lee

Following upon what the right hon. Gentleman said in the debate the other day, we well understand the rather delicate nature of this matter and I will not press him further.

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