HC Deb 08 February 2001 vol 362 cc627-8W
Mrs. Brinton

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons he intends to exclude energy from waste from renewables obligations; what measures he intends to introduce to promote energy from waste; and what assessment he has made of the environmental benefits of energy from waste. [149325]

Mr. Hain

No final decisions have been made as to which renewables will be included within the renewables obligation.

The Government's consultation document on the obligation proposed that large-scale hydro and energy from waste should be excluded on the grounds that they are already commercially viable, well established in the market, and able to compete with electricity from fossil fuels. This view took into account the indirect support provided to energy from waste by the landfill tax. The many responses received to this and other proposals in the consultation document are under consideration.

DTI does not have a promotional campaign on energy from waste. We do, however, support research and development on energy from waste and other forms of renewable energy under the Department's new and renewable energy programme.

The Government's policy is first to minimise waste, then to maximise re-use, recycling and composting where this is the most appropriate action. However, where the creation of waste is unavoidable, burning it to generate energy saves fossil fuels, reduces emissions, contributes towards our Kyoto targets and avoids having to landfill such waste.

The Government set out their aims and objectives for waste management in "Waste Strategy 2000". The choice of waste facilities is a matter for local councils to take in consultation with local communities, and councils should consider the best practical environmental option for each waste stream. The Government recognise that the recovery of energy from waste, through using it as fuel, may have a role to play, alongside recycling and composting, in a system of sustainable waste management.

An assessment of the environmental and other advantages and disadvantages of various household waste management options including energy from waste is included in the publication "An Introduction to Household Waste Management" published in March 1998 which was sponsored by my Department. Copies are being placed in the Library of the House.

Sir Sydney Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the environmental impact of the process of removing redundant offshore wind platforms. [149483]

Mr. Hain

A report was produced last year under DTI's new and renewable energy programme by Metoc plc, "An assessment of the environmental effects of offshore wind farms", which included wind farm decommissioning. Copies of the report are being placed in the Library of the House.

Sir Sydney Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his most recent estimate is of the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity generated from(a) offshore wind and (b) onshore wind, using a standard 6 per cent. discount rate. [149482]

Mr. Hain

The cost of generation from offshore and onshore wind will vary considerably depending on the location of the project. Costs can also be expected to fall over time as experience with the technology grows, and as economies of scale in plant manufacture and project development are exploited.

Cost estimates were published by DTI in the March 1999 document "New and Renewable Energy: Prospects in the UK for the 21st Century—Supporting Analysis". These showed that by year 2010, and with an 8 per cent. discount rate, the bulk of the UK's onshore wind potential could be developed at costs ranging from 2½–3½p per kilowatt hour. With a 15 per cent. discount rate, the cost range rises to 3½–5p per kilowatt hour. The cost ranges for offshore wind were very similar, although the potential resource is much greater.

Commercial developers of wind projects can be expected to seek returns in excess of 6 per cent., with the scale of required returns depending on the technical and commercial risks associated with the projects. At present, these risks are greater for offshore wind whose development is at a very early stage and the prices required by generators for the first generation of offshore wind projects in the UK could well be in excess of the cost ranges quoted.