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Energy Conservation

Volume 24: debated on Monday 17 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what estimate his Department has made of the amount of fuel, expressed in million tonnes of coal equivalent, saved during 1981 by the various Government conservation measures.

It is impossible to estimate the savings attributable to conservation measures alone. I estimate that in round terms a combination of energy price movements and conservation policies was responsible for savings of the order of 10 million tonnes of coal equivalent in the two-year period 1979 to 1981.

Is the Minister aware that, on the most optimistic calculation, the Sizewell station will not feed electricity into the grid until 1992 and should cost about £2,000 million? Would not a more vigorous conservation programme over the next 10 years be more beneficial to the nation, both in energy and in jobs?

I cannot confirm the hon. Gentleman's assertions, but whatever conservation policies are pursued there will always be a need for modern equipment capable of generating electricity cheaply.

Will my hon. Friend admit that there must be something wrong with Britain's energy conservation effort when large sections of the insulation industry are working at well below capacity, when millions of buildings are inadequately insulated and when a large number of people are unemployed?

More than three quarters of a million homes had their lofts insulated in 1981, many of them with assistance from the Government's home insulation scheme, and there is continuing progress on insulation projects within industry. Therefore, I do not accept that my hon. Friend's pessimism is justified.