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Wave Power

Volume 21: debated on Monday 5 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy when a decision will be made on the preferred system for wave power and the scale of Government funding for it.

When I have had the opportunity fully to study a report and the advice on the renewables programme from the advisory council on research and development for fuel and power.

Is the Minister aware that there is a suspicion in some quarters that the Government would like to sink the wave power experiments? Is he aware that this is an enormously important renewable source of energy, especially for this country, and that there are possible world markets? Will he get a move on with his study into which system to fund and give an assurance that there will be generous funding for it?

I utterly repudiate the implication of the hon. Gentleman's comment that we have somehow been marking time on the matter. In cash terms, the Government are spending this year four times as much on research and development into the renewables programme as did the Labour Government. I do not know how impatient the hon. Gentleman was with the Government that he supported. After £12 million of public money has been spent on the wave programme, the advisory council is examining the whole renewables programme to see where we go from here. This is a sensible step, being undertaken by accomplished scientists and engineers. I await their advice with interest.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, on current costing of wave power, this is an energy option for the medium rather than the short term? If he does agree, will he consider, before taking his decision, such schemes as Salter's bobbing ducks, which are being developed in my constituency and which, for a small investment, show great potential for the medium term?

There is enormous admiration within my Department for the work that Dr. Salter is doing on a very accomplished piece of engineering.

Will the Minister confirm that while he is studying the report, experiments are still continuing? Can he give an idea when he expects that some electricity developed by wave power will be going into the grid?

I cannot do that in respect of wave power. It is too early to say. The right hon. Gentleman will be more aware than most hon. Members of what the Government are doing on renewables. It is in his constituency, on the Orkneys, that we have moved to demonstration by supporting to the tune of £4½ million the construction of an aero-generator to produce electricity from the wind, of which I gather, in his part of the country, there is quite a lot.