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Solar Energy

Volume 974: debated on Monday 26 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the level of research by his Department into the potential and actual use of solar energy.

I am satisfied that my Department's research and development programme, when taken together with those supported by other Government Departments and by the European Economic Commission, to which the United Kingdom subscribes, is commensurate with the likely potential of solar energy.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the use of solar energy will be for secondary and support purposes? What consultation has my hon. Friend had with the car and building industries to see how this form of energy can be developed in the future?

There is continuing consultation involving not only the Department of Energy but the Department of Industry and the Department of the Environment with the industries that my hon. Friend mentioned. I accept that this is an area in which there is already investment by the Government in research, monitoring and development, to the tune of £1 million this year.

Is not research into solar energy in this country likely to be hampered by the Government's economic policies which mean that the country is likely to be living under a permanent cloud for the next two or three years?

The reverse is the case. The rational pricing policies of the Government have seen a major increase in interest in, and examination of, solar energy. There is in this area a modest expansion at small business level.