Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 580-588)




  580. Photovoltaics. You did not mention them earlier. Do you have any strong feelings one way or another on them? You gave a list at the beginning, and I know they involve heavy metals.
  (Mr Tindale) I am sorry if I missed them out and I am pleased to be able to clarify. We are strongly in favour of photovoltaics. One of the recommendations we have made to the PIU is that the building regulations for new build should be changed to require that all new buildings should be able to generate a proportion of their own electricity, and that that would be a challenge to architects. We believe that many of them would then incorporate photovoltaics into the new build, which is the sensible, economic way of doing it. Some of them would go for micro-CHP, some of them would go for micro-wind turbines and some of them would go for domestic fuel cells, but the important signal for requirements from the building regulations would stimulate a number of sectors, and photovoltaics would be one of them.

Richard Burden

  581. The debate around the energy review to a large extent, and no doubt understandably, has been dominated by the debate about how you generate electricity, and that is where a lot of the fuel sources debate has concentrated. When we have been talking today the discussion has moved on from time to time to transport which is an area which you do not mention in the PIU submission. I would like to ask you a couple of questions on that. How do you think the Government should be promoting energy efficiency in the transport sector specifically?
  (Mr Tindale) We are in favour of the minimum fuel efficiency standard which would have to be set at a European level as a voluntary agreement at the moment, but it is, in our view, not stringent enough and there are plenty of loopholes and escape clauses for the industry in it. That is one way of doing it. The other way of doing it, which is not unwritten and is well documented, is to influence patterns of transport through providing people with decent alternatives to the car.

  582. In terms of encouraging greater efficiency, what sort of alternative propulsion systems, for whether it be road-based public transport or road-based private transport, do you think have most potential in them, and how do you think they should be encouraging those systems?
  (Mr Tindale) I think you have to draw a distinction between the immediately available technologies and the ones that are the real long-term solutions. At the moment there is no really satisfactory alternative, but there are some alternatives which are better than the use of oil. So we would point, as interim measures, to an increased use of road fuel gases which do not do a great deal to improve CO2 emissions but are very, very advantageous from the point of view of toxic emissions. We would point to biodiesel which is quite good for reducing CO2 emissions, and we would point to a wider use of electric vehicles as interim measures. The long-term solution, as far as all the evidence we have seen suggests, will be hydrogen and fuel cells. We welcome the Government's interest in this area at a rhetorical level and we look forward to seeing some policies to back that up.

  583. What do you think they should be?
  (Mr Tindale) We believe that the best way to encourage hydrogen is to look first of all at the bus fleet, and for the Government to subsidise the introduction of a number of hydrogen bus fleets in key cities, which will lead not only to the direct benefit of those fleets but also to the gradual and piecemeal development of a hydrogen distribution infrastructure.

  584. What would you consider the industry should be doing, and how would you encourage the industry to do it?
  (Mr Tindale) The vehicle manufacturing industry?

  585. Yes.
  (Mr Tindale) The key challenge appears to be onboard storage of hydrogen. What we would encourage the industry and the Government to do is to pool resources to tackle that issue of what appears to be the one remaining technical issue standing in the way of the use of fuel cells in vehicles.

  586. Can I ask one more question in relation to your first point on the short-term issue of greater use of things like LPG. One of the things that has got in the way of that has been the operation of the planning system, and, frankly, garages feeling that they cannot get the on-site storage, is that right?
  (Mr Tindale) Yes.

  587. Would you like the planning system to be more responsive to encouraging the storage of LPG?
  (Mr Tindale) LPG and CNG, yes.


  588. I think we have covered most of the points that we wanted to raise with you. Can I thank you for the information you have given us. I hope your colleague is better and I hope that he will be able to send in the written replies to anything that you feel you want to expand upon.
  (Mr Tindale) Nuclear fusion I have a note on. Were there any other points?

  Chairman: There probably will be. We shall drop you a line when we have paused to reflect on the evidence. Thank you very much, Mr Tindale.

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