HC Deb 09 July 1979 vol 970 cc18-20
12. Mr. Forman

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will now publish the Marshall report on combined heat and power.

24. Mr. Welsh

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to publish Dr. Walter Marshall's report on combined heat and electrical power generation.

Mr. John Moore

I am arranging for the report of the combined heat and power group and an associated study of " Heat Loads in British Cities " to be published as energy papers later this month. Other supporting studies will be made available to the public at the same time.

Mr. Forman

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of us welcome that announcement and urge him to go further quickly and initiate a full-scale demonstration project of this very promising technology? Will he look into the possiblity of getting some funds from EEC sources to meet the cost of that demonstration project since there is reason to believe that these might be forthcoming?

Mr. Moore

I know of my hon. Friend's long interest in the subject, and I can assure him that the report raises major issues. Since the subject has been five years in the melting-pot, my hon. Friend will not wish me to comment until the Government have had time to make a proper statement on the report.

Mr. Welsh

Is the Minister aware that power stations waste a great deal of energy? Is he aware that over 60 per cent. of it goes up into the atmosphere? Does he realise that this does not happen in most European countries where waste heat is harnessed and used in combined heat and power schemes? Will he make a statement on the Government's attitude to combined heat and power schemes in this country? Will he take the opportunity offered by the Summer Recess to visit those countries in Europe where these schemes are operated so that he may see how efficiently they are run?

Mr. Moore

Such an invitation is almost impossible to resist after two months in office. I can reassure the hon. Member, however, that in my first week in office I visited the Hannessari B combined heat and power station in Helsinki. I had the opportunity to examine the system in operation before receiving the Marshall report. Since the subject has been under study for five years I imagine that no hon. Member would want us to rush a judgment after two months. However, we shall study the matter, and publication of the report will be made, with a press conference, on 26 July.

Mr. Rost

Does my hon. Friend agree that the principal reason why combined heat and power is so little used in this country compared with other European countries, and why we are bottom of the league, is that we have a nationalised monopoly utility in electricity that has constantly prevented the development of combined heat and power in partnership with industry and local authorities?

Mr. Moore

I think that we should avoid decrying too much our efforts in this area, since in industrial terms we are relatively far forward. Our older industrial base makes progress in this matter much more difficult in the more heavily populated areas. These are the sort of fundamental problems that we shall be considering when we come to tackle the report in detail.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Does the Minister agree that some of the enthusiasm he has shown for combined heat and power will be to no avail if, in the next few years, local authorities are not allowed to develop district heating schemes? Does he further agree that the current cuts in local authority expenditure, particularly on housing, are likely to prevent district heating schemes from being developed, and that that would jeopardise combined heat and power in the future?

Mr. Moore

I cannot accept that. The sort of capital investment and lead times that will have to be discussed in regard to combined heat and power are much more substantial than the kind of short-term measures that will have to be taken to get our domestic economy back into shape.