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Energy Conservation

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what plans he has for encouraging further energy conservation in British industry.

A substantial programme of energy saving measures, aimed in part at industry, was announced in December 1977, and further measures were announced in June 1978. Our present priority is to ensure that these measures are effectively implemented. Our energy conservation policy is a continuing one and we keep under review the scope for further or improved measures.

I am glad that the Minister keeps the policy under review, but is he aware that a document published by his Department recently showed that British industry could save up to 30 per cent. of its energy consumption if present technology was cleverly applied? Is the Minister satisfied that enc ugh is being done on things such as waste heat recovery, industrial combined heat and power, and heat pumps?

As the hon. Gentleman is quoting from the report which I initiated, I agree with what he said at the beginning. The question that he rightly posed was why industry is not getting on with the job. We have allocated about £22 million to aid investment in new or improved existing technology, and we are looking for industry to come to us with proposals.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, while it is necessary to conserve energy in general, in particular we should be conserving oil and trying to find alternatives to the use of oil? What is the Department doing along those lines, for instance, in regard to the electrification of the railways and the production of alternative supplies of power?

We have published position papers on alternative supplies of energy from the so-called benign sources. The electrification of British Rail is a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. We constantly examine the subject of oil substitution. One of the ways in which oil is being substituted is by the use of gas—a matter which we discussed earlier.