HC Deb 16 June 1986 vol 99 cc743-5
5. Mr. Hickmet

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about progress on combined heat and power schemes.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. David Hunt)

I understand that the consortia who are preparing prospectuses for CHP in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leicester are making steady progress.

Mr. Hickmet

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but does he agree that if we fail to take advantage of those proposals we shall fail to maximise the energy resources that are available to us? If such schemes are adopted, will it not mean that in the end energy and heat will become cheaper? Is my hon. Friend aware that, leaving aside the question of power stations, my constituency could be heated with the power that is lost through the blast furnace at Scunthorpe steelworks?

Mr. Hunt

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the Government's role. The Government have taken steps to encourage the development of CHP through the Energy Act 1983, which created a guaranteed market for the sale of electricity from CHP schemes and placed a duty on electricity boards to adopt and support viable projects, so we do want CHP district heating to go ahead wherever it is economically viable.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Will the Minister confirm that the thorny problem of individual metering for CHP for consumers has largely been resolved and there is no technological inhibition to its being introduced? Will the Minister give financial encouragement to local authorities to introduce it in their dwellings?

Mr. Hunt

I understand that the problem connected with individual metering has been resolved and I shall carefully consider the hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Speller

Does my hon. Friend agree that the progress of CHP is laudable, along with all the other sources of alternative energy which Her Majesty's Government are now seeking to support? Will he give us an undertaking that they will continue to support those alternatives, perhaps in preference to other more old-fashioned energy sources?

Mr. Hunt

I cannot give my hon. Friend a guarantee in those terms, although he has been one of the leading Members of the House who have been pressing for renewable energy sources to be given their correct priority. I can assure my hon. Friend that, despite any other factors, renewable energy sources will continue to receive the high level of Government support that they have received in the past five years.

Mr. Barron

Does the Minister accept that the Government's response to CHP has been small when one looks at some of our competitors in western Europe? It may be years before a plant becomes operational in the three lead schemes. Does the Minister accept that if, over and above the present lead schemes, CHP schemes were to be introduced quickly, it would bring jobs to areas in need such as the inner cities and into the steel industry and other industries?

Mr. Hunt

I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman understands the subject. The Government have helped to reduce uncertainties by making available financial help to local consortia to carry out the current work programmes. Surely the hon. Gentleman recognises that until those studies have been completed it is not possible to be specific about a way forward. However, I have clearly laid on the line the Government's intentions in that matter.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

I represent the trial area of Leicester, which has been a great supporter of CHP. Can my hon. Friend give any estimate of the number of jobs that could be created, or the likely savings that will be of great benefit to consumers throughout Leicestershire? Surely this is a project from which other parts of the country will soon benefit as much as we have done?

Mr. Hunt

Yes, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend's constructive approach. I also pay tribute to his perseverance in lobbying on behalf of the Leicester consortium. I was happy to visit Leicester to receive a presentation from the consortium recently. I understand now that it expects to be the fist to complete its work programme by autumn 1986 and I look forward to receiving its report.

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