HL Deb 22 October 1986 vol 481 cc265-6
Lord Ezra

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider that the Energy Act 1983 has been effective.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, the Government believe that it is still too early to evaluate the effect of the new opportunities which the Energy Act 1983 has opened up for operators of economic private generation. However, it is encouraging that the number of private generators selling electricity to boards in Great Britain, which had previously been falling, has risen since the Act came into effect from 59 in 1983–84 to 93 at the end of September this year.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, will the noble Viscount not agree that another of the objectives of the 1983 Energy Act was to stimulate combined heat and power projects? Is it not the case that we are lagging behind many other European countries in this development? What is the policy of the Government towards expediting it? To what extent has the electricity supply industry conducted the policy laid down in Section 19 of the 1983 Act to adopt and develop such schemes?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, the Government last year offered grant-aid of £250,000 each to consortia in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leicester for the preparation of prospectuses for combined heat and power district heating schemes. I understand that Leicester expects to finalise its studies in December, while the other two hope to complete their work by next March. I believe that work on evaluating possible schemes is also continuing in Sheffield, Tyneside and London.

The various electricity boards are actively supporting these efforts to develop economic combined heat and power schemes and are in some cases full members of a consortia.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that his honourable friend the Minister for energy efficiency, in opening the Unilever Merseyside power station, said that this system, CHP, allows the company to extract over 75 per cent. of the energy from the fuel it burns compared with about 35 per cent. in conventional power stations? Is that not an enormous saving? In Energy Efficiency Year should not the Government be giving a good deal more encouragement to CHP schemes? Above all, ought they not to be saying to the CEGB, particularly where it is proposing to construct new power stations near population centres, that they should be constructed only on the basis of combined heat and power?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, the Government are giving full support to combined heat and power schemes, but it is primarily a matter for the boards themselves. I understand that since May 1983 boards in England and Wales have appraised 19 potential combined heat and power projects, of which six remain under active consideration.

The chairman of the Electricity Council has indicated that boards will continue their efforts to identify economic combined heat and power projects in line with the provisions of the Energy Act 1983 and their other statutory duties.

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