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Renewable Energy

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government are taking to encourage and promote the use of renewable energy in Bedfordshire; and if he will make a statement. [16627]

Malcolm Wicks: Renewables East is the agency which promotes renewable energy in the East of England and is supported by the East of England Development Agency and the DTI. Renewables East has a dedicated programme to develop and promote renewables in the region and to harness the associated economic benefits. With particular reference to Bedfordshire, Renewables East as part of the DTI Its Only Natural campaign held an event with each local authority in 2006. Renewables East is closely linked to the Green Business Network in Bedfordshire which was established this year, and of course the Government have introduced the Renewable Obligation, which is a market-based mechanism for the support of the renewables sector.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his policy is on the creation of a grid to link different countries in respect of the generation of offshore renewable energy. [17147]

Malcolm Wicks: The DTI commissioned a report looking at the most economic cable connections for the Round 2 offshore wind farm projects planned around the coast of England and Wales to inform the joint DTI/Ofgem consultation document looking at the high level regulatory options for offshore transmission—Regulation of Offshore Electricity", which is available in the Libraries of the House.

That study concluded that direct connections to shore for single operators or groups of operators were the cheapest option. We have no policy for the creation of a grid linking those projects with other European countries. That is not to say that in the future as this sector develops it is not an idea that may become attractive.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of energy in each EU country was derived from renewable energy sources in the last period for which figures are available; and what targets each EU country has set for future supplies from such sources. [17187]

Malcolm Wicks: The most up-to-date overview of the percentages of energy generated from renewable sources in EU countries (and beyond) is available from an IEA publication called Renewables Information 2005". A summary of the policies and future targets for renewables in EU countries (and others) is available in a separate IEA publication; Renewable Energy: Market and Policy Trends in IEA countries", published in 2004. Both publications are available from the IEA website:

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) reliability of the method
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used to calculate relative costs of energy generation by different means; and if he will amend the basis of the calculation used to reflect risk. [17268]

Malcolm Wicks: Existing methods of calculation attempt to reflect risk and uncertainty. The relative costs of generation from different technologies depends on factors such as discount rates, plant capital and operating costs, fossil fuel prices, carbon prices and decommissioning and waste management costs. The assumptions made for these costs in respect of each technology mean that there is no single number for generation costs for any technology as they are influenced by a range of factors.

Renewables Obligation

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the change in the quantity of carbon dioxide emissions in each of the first two years of operation of the renewables obligation; and what the cost implications are. [16307]

Malcolm Wicks: Providing 10 per cent. of electricity consumption from renewable energy would save about 2.5 million tonnes of carbon per year in 2010 if the equivalent were generated from gas. This equates to a saving of 1.5 per cent. on 1990 emission levels.

In 2002 the total carbon dioxide emissions for the UK were 152.7 million tonnes of which 44.8 million tonnes was from power stations, in 2003, 156.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted, of which power stations accounted for 47.6 million tonnes and in 2004 the figure was 158.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted of which 47 million tonnes came from power stations.

On the cost implications, the regulatory impact assessment" issued alongside the RO Order predicated that in 2010–11 the percentage impact on average electricity prices compared to 1999 actual levels would be approximately 4.4 per cent. Ofgem estimated, within their Ofgem's Domestic Competitive Market Review 2004", that the current cost of the RO accounts for 2 per cent. of the domestic debit electricity bill.

Smart Meters

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make an assessment of the effects of the use of smart meters in Italian premises on energy use. [17265]

Malcolm Wicks: ENEL, the Italian monopoly utility embarked on a major programme of electricity smart meter installation in 2002. The system, known as advanced automated meter management integrates metering, billing and contract management. By the end of 2004, ENEL had installed 15 million new meters. It intends to install a further 15 million to complete the programme by the end of 2005. Upon completion of the roll-out, the company will undertake a full assessment of the costs and benefits associated with the programme.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make it his policy to encourage the installation of smart meters in all domestic premises; and what discussions he has held with Ofgem on this matter. [17266]

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Malcolm Wicks: Smart metering is potentially one of a number of measures that could be used to influence domestic energy consumption through improved information to the consumer. Potential benefits include reduced energy consumption, accurate billing and help to disadvantaged sections of society.

My officials, working closely with Ofgem and DEFRA are currently undertaking a market framework and cost/benefit analysis that will feed into any future Government policy development in this area.

State Aid

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the status of state aid to British Energy; what liabilities the Government have guaranteed; what representations environmental groups have made to him on the subject in the last 12 months; and what discussions he has had with the European Commission thereon. [16069]

Malcolm Wicks: The European Commission approved Government Restructuring Aid to BE on 22 September 2004. Government's part in deal is principally:

BE completed it's restructuring on 14 January 2005.

The Department has received a number of representations from stakeholders on this issue.

Strategic Reserve

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade andIndustry what the current level of (a) crude oil and (b) products in the Strategic Reserve is; and what (i)releases and (ii) acquisitions have been made in each month in 2005. [16969]

Malcolm Wicks: The UK is obliged as a member state of the European Union to hold emergency stocks of oil and as a member of the International Energy Agency to take part in any collective response to a major international supply disruption. The UK meets these international obligations by imposing obligations on commercial companies who hold these stocks as part of their normal operating stocks, rather than by maintaining a Strategic Reserve.

The UK is currently required to hold stock equivalent to 67.5 days' annual consumption. At the end of July 2005, the UK held stock equal to 78 days' supply, or about 13 million tonnes. 55 per cent. of this was held as crude oil, the rest as products.

In the course of September 2005, UK companies, in response to the International Energy Agency's call for a release of stocks to help the international market respond to the disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina, released some 400,000 tonnes onto the market. Of this, about 75 per cent. was products, and about 25 per cent.
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crude oil. They did this while at the same time both increasing exports of gasoline, and keeping the UK market supplied.

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