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Solar Energy

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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If he will make a statement on the Government's policy on solar energy. [15131]

The Government propose a new and strong drive to develop renewable energy sources in line with our manifesto commitment. The policy review announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for Science, Energy and Industry will consider what will be necessary and practicable in order to achieve 10 per cent. of the United Kingdom's electricity needs from renewables by the year 2010. That is an ambitious target, but we believe that, if we put the right commitment into it, it will be possible. That will obviously make a substantial contribution to the measures that we need for the Kyoto summit.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Does he agree that the solar energy economy requires dispersed forms of energy conversion and supply, rather than the massive centralised power stations of today's electricity industry? Does he agree also that if we develop and maintain solar energy, we will return power and real autonomy to the regions—not only in the United Kingdom but in the rest of the world?

My hon. Friend is right, of course-[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Opposition Members may cavil, but it is a serious problem that the country has to deal with. We believe in increasing the amount of our energy resources that come from renewable energy, and we are encouraged by the growing use of solar energy. The trouble is that solar energy is still very expensive. We are putting more money into research, and we will make progress on it as soon as we possibly can.