HC Deb 26 June 1989 vol 155 c688
9. Mr. Wood

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is the reduction in the amount of CO2, emitted per unit of electricity supplied between 1959 and the present day.

Mr. Peter Morrison

CO2 emissions per unit of electricity supplied have reduced by 33 per cent. over the period 1959 to the present day.

Mr. Wood

I thank my right hon. Friend for his encouraging response. Can he give an indication of future trends and how they would be affected if nuclear energy was no longer part of the country's total energy production?

Mr. Peter Morrison

It is very important to continue our nuclear programme. If we do not, CO2 emissions will increase. Of the 33 per cent. reduction to which I referred, about one third is attributable to nuclear-generated electricity, so its abolition—which the Opposition propose should ultimately occur—would have a very deleterious effect.

Dr. Kim Howells

Given the Government's obvious enthusiasm for the production of energy from non-fossil fuel sources, why have the West German Government abandoned plans to build a nuclear reprocessing plant at Wackersdorf, and why have the Siemens electricity company and the America firm Acro decided to establish Europe's first thin layer solar cell factory at Wackersdorf? Will Government money be invested in similar technology in this country?

Mr. Morrison

I may have many responsibilities, but I was not aware that the European Community had extended them to Germany's energy policies, so I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hind

Has my right hon. Friend seen today's press reports that in generating sufficient electricity to centrally heat the average-sized home, coal causes three times as much environmental damage as gas? Is not the message from that that the way forward for Britain's energy requirements must be the use of energy sources that do not damage the ozone layer and contribute to the greenhouse effect, and that nuclear and gas are two ways of achieving that objective?

Mr. Morrison

As my hon. Friend is probably aware, the gas burn directive does not prohibit the generation of electricity by gas, but does not encourage it. The United Kingdom takes a very positive stance on that and we are doing our best to have that directive repealed.