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Fluidised Bed Combustion

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy how much is currently being spent on the development of a fluidised bed combustion system by the Central Electricity Generating Board, by his own Department and by private industry, respectively.

The Department of Energy expects to spend some £11 million in the current financial year. Private industry expenditure is not known with any certainty but it is likely to be in the region of £0.5 million. Expenditure by the CEGB is not separately identified but is comparatively small, being concentrated on co-operation with the National Coal Board and Babcock and Wilcox in the planning of a demonstration plant for pressurised fluidised bed combustion.

In view of the importance of this technique in the consumption of coal in relation to reducing pollution and the burning of very low quality coal, is my hon. Friend satisfied that these rather meagre sums are adequate? Should there not be more of a sense of urgency in the development of this technique?

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am very keen to get on with this development. If he examines the little red book—the working party's report—he will see that this matter is spelt out. Furthermore, a scheme is being undertaken by the National Coal Board in conjunction with Babcock and Wilcox and the CEGB. In regard to total cost, the National Coal Board is taking the lead in this matter, but from a national point of view a sum of about £4 million is being invested.

Is not the truth of the matter that the CEGB is not interested in the fluidised bed technique, whereas many utilities abroad are beginning to show an interest? It is felt that we may lose this technology as we have lost others.

The hon. Gentleman is being unfair. He must know that in the development by the NCB and Babcock and Wilcox the CEGB has agreed to undertake the engineering.