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31. Mr. Eadie : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what estimate he has of the proportion of electricity imported from France via the Channel cable which is nuclear generated ; at what cost ; and what estimate he has of the coal equivalent in 1989 to the latest available date.
Mr. Peter Morrison : We are constantly seeking to improve offshore safety standards. Regulations requiring emergency shut-down valves on offshore installations were introduced in June 1989, as were regulations requiring the election of offshore safety representatives and safety committees. Regulations relating to revised arrangements for first aid offshore were made in September. Further regulations relating to sub-sea isolation systems are being prepared. Discussion documents have been issued detailing proposals for a review of the requirements for life-saving appliances, work permit procedures and fire and explosion protection on offshore installations, together with proposals requiring formal safety assessments to be applied as a continuous process at all stages of an installation's life cycle. In addition, a number of safety notices have been issued drawing the attention of the industry to specific areas of concern. The Government have made it clear that if the Piper Alpha public inquiry can recommend further improvements to the safety regime these will be implemented.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The Petroleum Science and Technology Institute is now established with a chairman and board of management in office, a director appointed and the first research contracts concluded. The institute has been pledged some £7 million in funding from the oil industry and my Department over the next five years.
Mr. Wakeham : I last met Senor Cardoso in September in Montreal at the world energy conference. We discussed a range of topics including the Community's efforts to achieve a single market in energy, the implications of widely different circumstances in the energy sectors of Community member states and the relationship between energy and environmental policies.
Mr. Wakeham : The nuclear company has an assured and long future as the operator of the CEGB's present Magnox and AGR stations. As I said in my statement to the House on 9 November, it should be possible, subject to the views of the nuclear installations inspectorate, for the lifetimes of at least some of the Magnox stations to be extended. The AGRs have many years ahead of them. The company will also have responsibility for building and operating Sizewell B, which will still be generating power 40 years from now. The successful completion and operation of that station will also enable the company to maintain the option to build further PWRs in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what were the latest figures for the cost of nuclear power and nuclear decommissioning quoted by the Central Electricity Generating Board at the Sizewell B and Hinkley Point C inquiries respectively.
Mr. Wakeham : Figures given to the Hinkley Point C public inquiry on the cost of nuclear power--for differing economic cases--are set out in CEGB 4 Addendum 5. CEGB 7 Addendas 7 and 8 cover the costs of construction. Figures for decommissioning are also available in CEGB 4 and CEGB 11.
Material tabled at the Sizewell B inquiry--which closed in March 1985--has been overtaken by that given to the Hinkley inquiry. I am arranging for copies of the above to be placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Michael Spicer : My Department is providing up to £8 million towards British Coal's £16 million topping cycle development programme at Grimethorpe. This technology offers a significant improvement in thermal efficiency compared with conventional power generation, coupled with low emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides.
British Coal is also at present developing a comprehensive environmental policy covering all aspects of its work, including both the production and consumption of coal.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The timing and priority of major projects such as Margam is a matter for British Coal in the light of the overall capital allocation available to it and the commercial objectives agreed with the Government.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The Department of Energy is funding a study to assess the overall United Kingdom shoreline wave energy resource. This survey is being carried out by Queen's university, Belfast. This study is complementary to the present research and development work funded by the Department on the shoreline rock gully device on the island of Islay.
The objectives of the current phase are the design, manufacture and the installation of an appropriate air driven power turbine and electrical generator and the assessment of the overall productivity, reliability and cost effectiveness of the complete system when connected to the local grid.
In February 1987 the Department published Energy Paper 54 "Energy Technologies for the United Kingdom : 1986 appraisal of research, development and demonstration". This appraisal is due to be updated and a detailed study of wave energy is now in progress as part of the overall appraisal. This study has the following objectives : To review the technical and commercial viability and prospects for wave energy in the United Kingdom, in the following areas ; shoreline wave energy ;
small-scale modular offshore wave energy ;
large-scale offshore wave energy ;
To review the economic classification of shoreline and offshore wave energy technologies and determine whether they are in the "Economically Attractive", "Promising but Uncertain" or "Long Shot" categories.
A steering group with independent members for the wave
Column 103energy study has been appointed as is our normal practice. All interested parties are being consulted during the study and at the stage of the preparation of the report.
Mr. Michael Spicer : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to his question on 19 June at columns 11-12 . Since then, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has granted consent for the outline planning application for a European demonstration reprocessing plant.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The Department of Energy and the Mersey Barrage Company are jointly funding feasibility studies into a Mersey barrage. The studies are being advanced to determine whether the Mersey Barrage Company can make an economic case for construction of a Mersey barrage. I expect to meet the chairman of the Mersey Barrage Company shortly to receive a progress report.
Harnessing the Mersey tides could produce approximately 0.5 per cent. of the country's current electricity needs, without fossil fuel emissions, though more studies need to be done on its environmental and regional impact.
Mr. Michael Spicer : I am advised by BNFL that good progress is being made towards completion of THORP. The fuel receipt and storage facility is operational and commercial reprocessing is expected to begin in late 1992. The company already has contracts valued up to £5 billion which will pay for its investment in the plant.
Mr. Peter Morrison : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I met Mr. Campbell Christie, general secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress with other trade union representatives on 7 November for a general discussion.
I chair regular meetings of the offshore industry liaison committee which is a tripartite body including representatives of Government, industry, and the unions. That committee provides a useful forum for discussion of matters relating to the United Kingdom continental shelf. The last meeting on 3 October provided an opportunity for a review of United Kingdom continental shelf developments, and skill shortages.
76. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many tonnes of coal were imported into Great Britain at the latest available date ; if he will list the names of the countries and the respective amounts of coal from each ; and if he will make a statement.
January to September 1989 Country of origin |Quantity<1> |(thousand tonnes) ------------------------------------------------------------- United States of America |3,538 Australia |1,643 Poland |694 Canada |565 Colombia |480 China |405 South Africa |303 Federal Republic of Germany |213 USSR |157 Netherlands |133 Panama |106 Venezuela |86 Belgium |61 France |42 Norway |37 Others |80 |------- Total |8,544 <1> Figures are rounded independently and the total may therefore differ from the sum of the constituent parts. Source: Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.
Figures for earlier years are published on an annual basis in table 74 of the "Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics".
78. Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are his most recent estimates for the costs of decommissioning Magnox, advanced gas-cooled reactor and pressurised water reactor power stations.
(2) what is his latest estimate of the total cost of
decommissioning each nuclear power station.
Mr. Wakeham : The point at which each nuclear power station will be taken out of service is a matter for the operator to decide taking account of the circumstances at the time. Estimation of the cost of decommissioning each station is also a matter for the operator.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West, 28 July, Official Report, column 981, when he wrote to the Central Electricity Generating Board requesting that they reply to the hon. Member.
Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on what Government-sponsored research is either currently taking place or likely to be commissioned in the near future to evaluate the energy consumption rates of different methods of making paper.
Mr. Peter Morrison : As part of their new energy efficiency best practice programme my Energy Efficiency Office will be producing energy consumption guides for various processes in a number of industries. It is presently examining the scope for doing so in the papermaking industry.
Mr. Wakeham : Details of the amounts of gas flared from producing oil fields in the United Kingdom continental shelf in each of the years 1978 to 1988 have been published each year since 1979 in my Department's annual report to Parliament (the Brown Book). Figures for years 1975, when UKCS production started, to 1977 are not available.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his assessment of the length of the reasonable period ahead over which the distribution companies will need to be clear about their obligations.
Mr. Michael Spicer : PowerGen will have to comply with the limits set out in the large combustion plant directive agreed in 1988. The precise financial commitment to flue gas desulphurisation will be a commercial matter for the company itself.
Mr. Wakeham : Most of the production operations for Sizewell B fuel, for which BNFL is currently bidding, would be carried out in plants which also produce fuel for the AGR stations. The combined capacity of these plants is around 300 tonnes of uranium a year. The final assembly work would take place in an existing plant with a capacity of 200 tonnes of uranium a year.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what facilities provided or to be provided by the Atomic Energy Authority, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., the nuclear installations inspectorate or NIREX, respectively, are intended solely to service the needs of Sizewell B pressurised water reactor.
Mr. Wakeham : The Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate has been involved in all stages of the licensing of Sizewell B, and will continue to deploy its resources in the best possible way to ensure that operators of nuclear installations comply with their statutory requirements for safety. I will ask the chairmen of the other organisations referred to in the hon. Member's question to write directly to him.