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19 Jan 2006 : Column 1513W—continued

Gas Supplies Agreement

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the implications for the UK of the recent agreement on gas supplies between Russia and the Ukraine. [42621]

Malcolm Wicks: The dispute reinforces the importance of progressing a EU energy policy, as agreed at the EU informal Heads of Government meeting at Hampton Court in October; and of developing bilateral relations with gas exporting countries, to ensure an appropriate framework for importing gas into Great
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Britain. The current review of energy policy will consider policy options to ensure that the UK is on track to meet the medium and long-term goals in the Energy White Paper, against the background of developments since 2003, including our increasing dependence on imported gas.

Gas Turbines

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the feasibility of running gas turbine engines on renewable biofuel; and if he will make a statement. [42198]

Malcolm Wicks: Work was commissioned on the use of gas from the anaerobic digestion of biomass in small gas turbines or micro-turbines, in 2001. The reports can be found on the DTI website under the title DTI/Pub URN 02/1345—Distributed Power Generation Using Biogas Fuelled Micro-turbines Advantica Technologies Limited, January 2002.

Work has also been supported on the use of gas from the thermal gasification of biomass and waste in micro-turbines and is reported in URN 04/1804 Development of a Micro-Turbine to Run on Gasifier Producer Gas, Biomass Engineering Limited, May 2004. Further work in this area is being supported through Rural Generation Ltd. and Queens University Belfast and should report later this year.

The DTI is also supporting Talbots Heating, who are using wood combustion to provide the energy to drive a micro-turbine. The latest report here is Bio-mass Fuelled Indirect Fired Micro Turbine, DTI/Pub URN 05/698.

At Siemens Industrial Gas Turbines in Lincoln, we are supporting work to investigate the use of gas from the pyrolysis and gasification of biomass and wastes in larger gas turbines. This should also be reporting at the end of this year.

No work has been supported or evaluated on the use of liquid bio-fuels derived from vegetable and animal oils and fats in gas turbines. Industry has shown very little interest in this application. We understand that commercial alternatives are available, using reciprocating engines that are currently generating under the renewables obligation.

Elsewhere, we understand from the International Energy Agency—of which the UK is a member—that some work is ongoing in Canada on the use of liquids derived from the pyrolysis of wood in gas turbines.

Home Accident Safety Survey

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements he plans to put in place to replace the Home Accident Safety Survey; and when an announcement is expected to be made. [43857]

Mr. Sutcliffe: DTI has no plans to replace the Home Accident Surveillance System.

Hydroelectric Power (Wales)

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much and what proportion of
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electricity supplied to consumers in Wales was produced from hydroelectric power in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; [43323]

(2) how much and what proportion of electricity supplied to consumers in Wales was produced from (a) renewable energy sources and (b) wind power in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [43329]

Malcolm Wicks: The majority of the electricity generated in Wales is supplied to the national grid system that covers England, Wales and (since 2005) Scotland. Since there is a two way movement of electricity between England and Wales using the grid it is not possible to say how much and what proportion of electricity supplied to consumers in Wales is produced from a particular source.

However, information on generation by country is available and has been published by this Department in Energy Trends". Data for Wales for the years 2001 to 2004 are shown in the following tables. Data are not available before 2001.

Wind, wave and solar337376378547
Other renewable sources113132201192
Total renewables7097827801,044
Total generation in Wales28,98632,06730,05435,235


Wind, wave and solar1.
Other renewable sources0.
Total renewables2.
Total generation in Wales100.0100.0100.0100.0

Knowledge Partnerships

Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the interface between universities and small and medium-sized enterprises through knowledge partnerships. [43236]

Barry Gardiner: During the course of 2004–05 over £32 million of government grant support was committed to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within UK universities. This was augmented by £53 million from participating firms, 87 per cent. of which were SMEs.

In addition, the Government have has increased the funding available to Universities under the Higher Education Innovation Fund—which is rising to £110 million per year. This supports a wide range of activities including support for SMEs. Interaction with SMEs is on the rise—for example, the Higher Education Business Interaction survey shows an increase in HE research contracts with SMEs from 3,510 in 2001–02 to 4,148 in 2002–03. My noble Friend the Parliamentary
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Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation is endeavouring to arrange a convenient time to discuss these matters further with my hon. Friend.

Nuclear Decommissioning

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many participants submitted evidence to the recent Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Draft Strategic Plan. [41431]

Malcolm Wicks: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has completed its consultation with stakeholders on its first Strategy. In total, the NDA received over 270 sets of comments from a wide variety of organisations and individuals. The NDA has acknowledged all comments and has sought the permission of respondents to publish their comments on the NDA website, and intends to reply to respondents on points raised.

Petroleum Products

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many times the UK has failed to meet its stock obligations of Category 2 petroleum products; [40677]

(2) what plans he has to replace the Compulsory Stocking Obligation in respect of petroleum products; [40706]

(3) what representations he has received about the establishment of a privately-funded stockholding agency to replace the Compulsory Stocking Obligation; [40707]

(4) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Compulsory Stocking Obligation in maintaining adequate stocks of petroleum products. [40709]

Malcolm Wicks: The UK meets its international obligations to hold stocks of oil for use in the event of disruption of supplies by imposing obligations on companies. We believe that stocks held by companies are, in the event of an emergency, likely to be where they will be needed and capable of being quickly processed into the supply chain. The release of stocks following Hurricane Katrina has shown that the UK system was able to respond well to the disruption which occurred.

The UK is currently required to hold stock equivalent to 67.5 days annual consumption, both in total and also in each of the three categories into which the total is divided. Obligations are based on sales. Changes in the market, with small companies below the threshold for the obligation entering a supply chain previously dominated by oil companies, meant that between March 2000 and October 2004, although the UK met the total obligation in all but two months, in 41 of the 56 months we did not hold the full level of stocks necessary to meet that part of the obligation relating to category 2 (gas oil, diesel oil, kerosene and kerosene based aviation fuels). In order to return to full compliance with the UK obligations the Government agreed increases in company obligations with industry, and the UK has been fully compliant with the obligations since November 2004.
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We must, however, consider future needs. The UK's obligation will increase as our domestic production of oil declines. We have, therefore, consulted the oil industry and others about a new system which will ensure that the UK can continue to meet its obligations in future. We propose that this system should be based on products from refineries or entering the UK as imports. As we work with the industry to establish the system, we have agreed to explore the long-term potential of establishing an agency to ensure that stocking obligations are met.

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