I will give you that figure. The interest on advances made up to 21st June, 1951, was fixed at 2½ per cent. per annum and the rate of interest payable on any advance made since that date is the rate that was current when the advance was made. The interest paid to date amounts to £109,042. When regard is had to the many difficulties which the board has experienced because of the novel anddifficult nature of the work, the unavoidable delays in securing plant and machinery and the constant rise in the level of production costs, I think Deputies will agree that the board's management of its financial affairs has been as satisfactory as its production achievements. Now that all first programme advances are liable to interest, the board's financial obligations will be much heavier than heretofore and, may I say, will represent a substantial annual contribution to the Exchequer. It is estimated that in the year ending 31st March next payments to the Exchequer by the board will amount to at least £184,000 and of course will show a progressive increase in each year thereafter.
In the board's second development programme, for which an additional provision of £4,250,000 is included in this Bill, 13 bogs are at present scheduled for development, but other bogs may be included in the programme later. The greater part of the output of this second programme will be in the form of milled peat for use in electricity generating stations. It is hoped to achieve full production of 2,250,000 tons by 1960. The original target was 1,000,000 tons of sod turf, but the decision to change over to milled peat has necessitated its revision. Part of the output will be available from 1956 onwards for use in the generating stations which will be coming into commission gradually during these years.
In addition to milled peat, machined turf output from the second production programme bogs is estimated to reach 162,000 tons by 1960, but part of this output will be available from 1955 onwards. By 1960 therefore, when the board's second programme bogs are expected to be in full production, the total output from all the board's bogs will be as follows:—
Machined turf, 874,000 tons, of which at least 390,000 tons will be used in the generating stations at Portarlington, Allenwood and Lanesboro'; milled peat, 2,500,000 tons, all of which will be used in electricity generating stations to be erected at Derrynagreenagh, Bangor Erris and Oweninny, Gowlanand Ferbane; 35,000 tons of briquettes per annum and 100,000 to 150,000 bales of peat moss per annum at Kilberry.
As regards the housing programme, considerable progress has been made in the provision of houses for the board's employees. Already 366 houses have been completed. As a matter of interest, I may mention that the board has received nearly 600 applications for tenancies from persons not employed by them. It is the board's policy, however, to grant tenancies only to actual employees and applicants for houses must become employees of the board before they are considered for tenancies. At present, 104 houses are under construction and further building will be undertaken according as the need arises. The amount of employment afforded by the board is, of course, considerable and will become larger when full production is attained under the two development programmes. The board is actively recruiting workers at present and is in a position to offer employment to an additional 500 or 600 workers.
I mentioned that in the board's second development programme, the main emphasis is on the winning of turf in the form of milled peat for use in generating stations. The decision to concentrate on milled peat was taken in the light of the many advantages which that form of production offers as compared with sod peat. Its winning lends itself more easily to mechanisation; less manual labour is required and it is cheaper to produce per calorie than so turf; it can be burned at a higher moisture content; the necessary preliminary development work in the bogs is less elaborate and can be done more quickly. Over all, it is cheaper and more easily produced fuel than sod turf.
The Government have decided that the increase in the E.S.B.'s generating plant which will be required for the next ten years to meet the increase in demand for electricity will be based to the greatest possible extent on the utilisation of our water and peat resources. Our available water resources, however, when fully generated, will, it is estimated,provide only about 1,000,000,000 units of electricity annually, which is less than our present consumption. That output must therefore be supplemented by steam stations. It has been decided that these steam stations will be designed to use turf as a fuel and that further steam stations using imported fuels will be constructed only when the native water and peat resources have been fully exploited.
In connection with the turf-fired station arrangements, a very close liason is being maintained between Bord na Móna and the E.S.B., and a joint technical committee consisting of representatives of both boards has been established. That committee discusses matters of common interest with a view to co-ordinating their activities.
The plans of the E.S.B. for the provision of additional generating capacity will come before the House in greater detail in connection with a Bill which will shortly be introduced. For the moment I think it is sufficient to say that of the total installed capacity which the E.S.B. expect to have by 1961, two-fifths will be in turf-fired stations. Deputies may be interested to learn of the success which has attended the operations of the two existing turf-fired stations since they were brought into commission. The Portarlington station, which was designed to produce annually approximately 90,000,000 units of electricity from 120,000 tons of turf, actually produced 164,000,000 units from 200,000 tons of turf in the year ended 31st March last. The Allenwood station has not yet been in full production for a complete year, as the second set at that station came into commission only at the end of September, 1952. It was designed to produce annually 135,000,000 units of electricity from 180,000 tons of turf; in the year ended 31st March last it produced over 158,000,000 units from 193,000 tons of turf.
These achievements should dispose of any doubts which may still be entertained regarding the practicability of using turf for electricity generation. They also show that in abnormally dry years, such as we experienced in 1952,or when other types of fuel cannot be easily obtained, turf-fired stations are just as capable of coping with the demand as are coal or oil-fired stations. In fact, it has now become the practice, in the case of the steam stations, to give the maximum possible load to those which are turf-fired, leaving the balance to be taken by the coal and oil stations.
Although not strictly relevant to the present Bill, I think some mention should be made of Bord na Móna's experimental station at Droichead Nua in County Kildare. The station deals with the investigation of problems connected with the production and the utilisation of turf, and close contact is maintained with developments in the turf industry in other countries. A great deal of attention has been devoted to the mechanisation of development and of production operations and considerable economics in manpower requirements have been secured as a result of the work at the station. For instance, drainage operations have been almost completely mechanised. The work is constantly proceeding on the design and construction of experimental machines of various types to cope with the problems which are experienced in the board's bogs. Particular attention has been devoted to methods of securing the most economic and efficient utilisation of turf for domestic heating and for industrial power purposes. It is worth while mentioning that considerable results have been achieved in both these fields. A number of Irish manufacturers have, as a result of co-operation with the board, succeeded in producing domestic turf-burning appliances which are not only highly efficient but which are also attractive in design and finish.
Recently the station has designed a special method of burning turf in industrial installations and several factories have adopted it. This method which the board has devised not only secures a high degree of combustion efficiency but also a saving in costs as compared with installations using coal or oil. The position in which Irish industries in country areas were handicapped by high fuel costs has now been completelyreversed. So far as fuel costs are concerned, the location of an industry in a turf area is now a very definite commercial advantage. That is an achievement on which the board and the staff deserve to be congratulated. I may say that the services of the board's staff are always available and will be very gladly offered to any industrial user who requires advice and assistance on any problems connected with the handling and utilisation of turf.
Since the systematic and scientific development of our turf resources was commenced, experience has shown that the most economic method of using turf on a large scale is in electricity generating stations. The details which I have given in regard to the operations of our existing turf-fired stations support that view. Large-scale development has other obvious advantages. It is desirable from the point of view of national security and it provides opportunities for employment in areas in which employment is normally difficult to provide. The erection of power stations in the more remote and undeveloped areas should facilitate the extension to those areas of rural electrification and should also provide an incentive for the establishment of industries in those areas. That in turn should help An Foras Tionscal in carrying out work which was entrusted to it under the Undeveloped Areas Act.
Finally, if we could succeed in effecting a reduction in our need for imported fuel by providing a greater proportion of our energy requirements from native sources, it would help considerably to redress our adverse balance of trade.
I have stressed that the services of Bord na Móna's technical staff are freely available to industrialists requiring advice and assistance in the handling and burning of turf. I am unable to understand the persistence of the tendency among some industries and institutions in the turf burning areas which formerly depended on turf, to change over to installations using imported fuel. Many of these industries owe their existence to facilities granted to them by the State and it is notunreasonable to expect that in return they should co-operate in the policy of utilising our native resources as much as possible. It was stated in the 1946 White Paper that assistance to industries located in areas where the use of turf fuel was economic would be conditional upon that fuel being used and I have recently had to refuse to consider applications for protection, by way of tariff or for the amendment of existing tariffs, from concerns which had not considered the utilisation of turf as fuel or had changed over from turf to fuel oil. In each case the firm concerned, on having its attention directed to the availability of an efficient fuel locally and to the methods by which that fuel could be used economically, found that they could turn back to turf with a saving in costs. Every consideration of self-interest and national security demands that we should develop and utilise our turf fuel resources and in that work it is expected that we shall have the co-operation of industrial undertakings and of public authorities responsible for the control of institutions, particularly in the turf areas. Bord na Móna has been entrusted with the development of our turf resources and the success which has been achieved in its operation so far gives every reason to hope that it will make a considerable contribution towards supplying the requirements of fuel and power from our own resources. As that is an objective of national policy which is universally accepted, I recommend the Bill to the House confident that it will secure approval here.