HC Deb 09 May 1988 vol 133 cc12-3
17. Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met with the electricity area board chairmen; and whether new electricity generation developments were discussed.

Mr. Parkinson

I have meetings from time to time with the area board chairmen, at which we discuss a number of issues of common interest.

Miss Widdecombe

In the course of those discussions, how supportive is my right hon. Friend of the idea of emphasis being placed on the future of renewable sources of energy?

Mr. Parkinson

We have a substantial programme of support for investigations into various sources of renewable energy. We are supporting about 218 individual programmes into sources of renewable energy, but most of the area board chairmen and other members of the industry recognise that the main source of electricity will be coal, atomic, gas and oil and that, although renewables will be a valuable peripheral supply, the prospect at present is that they will be a peripheral supply only.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Has fast breeder reactor electricity generation been discussed? Will the Secretary of State place on record the fact that the fast breeder reactor programme has been, and continues to be, a useful and effective programme?

Mr. Parkinson

There is no question but that the fast breeder reactor offers a useful future source of energy. One of the problems is that, commercially, we are not likely to develop the technology for another 30 years. The debate is not whether we abandon the technology, but how we preserve it until we need it. I am pleased to confirm that we regard the fast breeder reactor as a potential source of electricity.