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Alternative Energy Sources

Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he proposes to have discussions with the European Commission about alternative sources of energy.

Neither my right hon. Friend nor I have any current plans to have discussions with the European Commission. However, alternative sources of energy are likely to be relevant in future Council discussions. The next Energy Council is planned for 29 October.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the balance between United Kingdom national research and European Community research is about right? Does not he think that more of this research should be undertaken on a European basis?

I think that I am satisfied that the balance is about right in terms of the JOULE 2 and THERMIE programmes. As a result of the European Community coming together, the total spend by those nations on research and development is about right.

Will the Minister ensure that at the Council of Ministers meeting on 29 October a clear proposition is laid before the Council that Dounreay, in the north of Scotland, should be developed as a centre of excellence for research into renewable energy sources, instead of the current proposition, which is to turn it into a nuclear dustbin?

I do not agree with the final part of the hon. Lady's question, but I listened carefully to the former part.

If and when my right hon. Friend has discussions with the European Commission on alternative energy sources, will he review with it the possibilities and opportunities for wave power? If he finds that there is potential for wave power, will he reassess the Salter duck, which was designed and developed in this country, but, unfortunately has not yet been exploited?

As my hon. Friend will know, the Department spends a considerable amount of money on research and development into wave power, and currently we are reviewing that research. As for Mr. Salter and his ideas, my hon. Friend might be pleased to hear that he came to my office a few weeks ago where we had a long discussion, and that I intend to visit his laboratories in Edinburgh as soon as I can find the time.