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Combined Heat and Power

Volume 541: debated on Thursday 8 March 2012

8. What recent assessment he has made of the use of incineration for power and heat generation. (98666)

There is no place for old-style incinerators in our future energy mix but there are an increasing number of new energy-from-waste technologies being deployed that offer real potential for local low-carbon and environmentally friendly generation of electricity and heat.

Does the Minister not accept that we face a huge educational task in persuading people—both the public and politicians—that the modern combined heat and power plants differ from the dioxin-belching monstrosities of the past?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There has been a sea change in safety and environmental standards as well as in the type of technologies that can now be deployed. These smaller, new technologies often have a role to play, particularly in our vision of an ambitious roll-out of decentralised energies and of communities taking more responsibility for and greater ownership of their own energy-generating assets.

Is the Minister aware that there are some very good energy-from-waste operations at the moment that, with a little co-operation with local authorities and a little help from the Government, could be converted into combined heat and power to heat local communities, hospitals and town centres? That is what happens in Sheffield and it could happen in many other places.

The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. I have visited the site in Sheffield and it is a beacon of what can be done and of the benefit that we can get from such assets. We want to see a big expansion in CHP, not forgetting the hierarchy that means that before considering energy from waste, we should prevent, reuse, recycle and recover. We think CHP has a big future and will bring forward further proposals to encourage it.