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Renewable Energy Sources

Volume 82: debated on Tuesday 2 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he has received the recommendations of his Advisory Council on Research and Development on his programme for the development of renewable energy sources; what will be spent on the programme during 1985–86; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and I have recently received the recommendations from the chairman of ACORD arising from its review, and we have accepted both the specific objectives of the programme and its future content.I have placed the recommendations in the Libraries of the House, together with supporting documents, as I undertook to do in reply to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Speller) on 8 May, at column 424.The major programmes on wind power and geothermal hot dry rocks will continue. They will be further reviewed when experience is available from the wind-powered generators under construction on Orkney and at Carmarthen bay, and when the present phase of the geothermal experiment at Rosemanowes in Cornwall is complete.I agree that our present programme of research and development into passive solar design of buildings is important and justified. I have been glad to note ACORD's recognition of its economic attractiveness, and the need to involve the private sector in its application.The biofuels programme will continue, and this reflects especially the economic potential of waste as a fuel. Support for small-scale hydro-power technology will also continue.Studies into the private financing of the Severn tidal power scheme continue, and I await their outcome. I have accepted ACORD's advice to discontinue work on wave power and geothermal aquifers in order to concentrate resources into more promising technologies. However, on wave power in particular, I recognise that it will be important for the Department to be receptive to new ideas which might succeed in achieving the major cost reductions necessary to make it a worthwhile source of power. Technical reports on active solar heating (on which work was discontinued following the 1982 review) and on wave power are being placed in the Libraries of the House.A detailed technical report on the work on geothermal aquifers will also be prepared by the energy technology support unit and published. With regard to geothermal aquifers, I have decided after careful consideration not to proceed with the geothermal heating scheme at Southampton because the limited potential of this resource in the United Kingdom, which has now been demonstrated, does not now justify such a project.The estimated expenditure by my Department on renewable energy research and development in 1985–86 is £14 million.