asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the amounts which his Department will spend in 1986–87 on research and development into renewable sources of energy; how this compares with 1978–79; and if he will make a statement.
Expenditure on my Department's programme for research, development and demonstration into renewable sources of energy in 1986–87, including external contributions, is estimated to be £17·25 million compared with expenditure of £3·6 million in 1978–79.
I congratulate the Department of Energy on those excellent figures, which, to be fair, must represent something like a doubling of investment since the Government came to office. Is my right hon. Friend prepared to involve heavily the private sector in investment into wave, wind and solar power and subterranean heat so that we are sure that resources are put into those areas that are technically and economically sound?
Yes, my hon. Friend is right. We have sought to maximise contributions from external sources — in particular, the private sector—and over £3 million in the figures that I have announced for 1986–87 is expected to come from such sources, compared with £800,000 last year. More than £100 million has been invested by the Government in renewables research and development since 1979. My hon. Friend is right to stress that no Government have done more than we have to develop the renewable technologies.