§ Mr. Hastings
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what resources are at present committed to research into the development of alternative sources of energy other than oil: and what progress has been made.
§ Mr. Emery
The UKAEA is spending £42.5 million in the current year on research and development on nuclear fission reactors, and research in this field also features in the research programme of the CEGB. The major part of the effort is devoted to the prototype fast reactor which is expected to achieve a significant level of power output early in 1974.
The United Kingdom is also participating in research on nuclear fusion research being conducted as a European venture. The research has reached the point when a major new research facility is to be designed.
Researches on hydrogen from water and on solar energy are also being carried out as European ventures at a total estimated cost to the Community of about £0.9 million in 1973. The research on hydrogen has encompassed the partial evaluation of a number of theoretically possible process routes but the preferable route has yet to be identified. The solar energy project is new in 1973.
Elsewhere in the public sector, the National Coal Board has a research project at the laboratory stage on coal liquefaction, and the Electricity Council and British Rail are pressing ahead with laboratory research on improved battery systems for transport purposes.