Orders of the Day — Energy Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th July 1973.

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Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton 12:00 am, 19th July 1973

Of course one can project in certain areas figures suggesting that proven resources of fossil fuels increasing at certain rates will lead to problems in the late 1980s or at the turn of the century. But that means working on the old pattern. The price factors as shortage arises, as Middle East situations have shown, put an entirely different complexion on the way the hydrocarbon resources of the world may be replaced. That is why I have referred to secondary recoveries and shale sand recoveries which so far we have not gone into in our concept of resources.

I agree that we shall want to turn towards nuclear generation, which is the most obvious replacement factor. We shall need to ensure that hydrocarbons are used where there is no substitute for them. But where substitution can take place, such as in electricity generation, there are, for example, large resources of uranium. A fast-breeder reactor uses uranium many times more efficiently. In the very long term, energy from nuclear fusion may become practicable and it should become a limitless source of energy.

Solar energy and wind and tidal power have been suggested, but these are not very promising in the United Kingdom. There are very few sites at the moment where tidal power would be viable in relation to total energy demand. Much as I wish it otherwise, the British climate is not encouraging for solar power. I wish it were so for reasons other than the production of energy.

We have not a specific programme for solar power but we keep in touch with the work done on it in other parts of the world. I note the suggestion that solar power might be a topic for discussion at the Commonwealth conference. It is an interesting suggestion and I should like to process it a little further.