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Renewable Energy

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 28 April 2011

5. What assessment the House of Commons Commission has made of the potential for use of renewable energy technology on the House of Commons part of the parliamentary estate. (52655)

In 2005, a study was conducted on the potential for solar photovoltaic and hot water systems on the roofs of the Palace of Westminster. However, it was ruled out because the financial payback was 125 years and the equipment had a life expectancy of 30 years. The current mechanical and electrical project has already installed new energy-efficient pumps and motors, and the medium to long-term plans include solar photovoltaics, greywater harvesting, borehole water cooling, and combined heat and power.

We do not want windmills here just as much as I do not want them cluttering the landscape of Bassetlaw, but there must be scope for solar energy, and not least for air source heat pumps, in the Palace of Westminster. Is it not time that we got our act together and started using renewables far more on the parliamentary estate?

I am very happy to be able to agree with the hon. Gentleman and to inform him that these issues are at the heart of the project that is ongoing within the Facilities Department. All of these options are considered for ongoing programmes and where repairs and renewals are undertaken or where capital investment is made.

Does my hon. Friend agree both that much has changed since the earlier assessments, not least the Government’s recent announcement that public bodies will be able to benefit from feed-in tariffs, and that rather than looking to the medium to long term, we ought to be taking a much more urgent approach to achieving renewable energy for the parliamentary estate?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, and, indeed, the infrastructure to accommodate the measures I referred to in my first answer will be installed to take advantage of the technologies as they mature and as paybacks improve, as they currently are doing.