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Combined Heat And Power

Volume 130: debated on Monday 28 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what further considerations the Government are giving; to the promotion of combined heat and power systems.

The Energy Efficiency Office will continue to promote combined heat and power technology. The privatisation of the electricity supply industry will open new business opportunities for all independent generators, including combined heat and power operators.

The Government appear to want to rely on the private sector for any development of combined heat and power. Does the Minister accept that if large areas, such as our cities, are to benefit from combined heat and power, substantial Government support and funding will be necessary? Does he further accept that if he introduces combined heat and power into our cities that would be a gigantic step towards the more effective use and conservation of energy for the future?

I accept that combined heat and power can be a great asset in a major city. I have seen examples of it in Sheffield and Leicester. However, I cannot agree with the hon. Lady that Government finance should be available. It is far better that market forces should prevail.

Will my hon. Friend acknowledge the contribution that combined heat and power can make in our cities, not only to the production of cheaper electricity and heating to overcome fuel poverty, but to the urban renewal programme? Will he speak to his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who is supposed to be co-ordinating the Government programme on this, and ensure that there is an input into those programmes?

I agree with my hon. Friend that the contribution that is made, particularly in the two examples that I have seen in Leicester and Sheffield, is a great and good contribution. I shall ensure that my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry sees those examples.

I join the Minister in looking forward to more combined heat and power generation. One of the ways in which that may take place is through the reopening of smaller coal-fired power stations. Following the Government's rejection of the EEC's offer to reduce sulphur and nitrogen emissions in the air and the resulting acid rain, it is possible that the opening of combined heat and power stations will increase sulphur emissions. How will the proposed privatisation affect that?

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what the Government said about emissions. As I have already said in answer to previous questions, the potential for combined heat and power in certain major cities in this country, and perhaps elsewhere, can be great, but it will be subject to market conditions.