Huhne unveils vision of a low carbon future

Energy secretary Chris Huhne today outlined a new plan that could ensure long term energy requirements are fulfilled in the UK in a more sustainable way.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne today outlined a new plan that could ensure long term energy requirements are fulfilled in the UK in a more sustainable way. He argued he was engaging in a “once in a generation chance” to create “cleaner, greener power” and “affordable energy for decades to come”.

As well as investing in renewable and low carbon energy, Mr Huhe also promised to make Britain “one of the best places to do energy business”, encouraging the growth of environmentally friendly power.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have explained that the government’s proposals will see:

• Reforms to provide long-term certainty for electricity investors;

• New markets having a built-in level playing field for low carbon;

• Rules for existing investments protected;

• The long term impact on household electricity bills lower than under the current market.

The government also outlined the scale of the challenge it faces. With nuclear and coal plants generating around a quarter of the UK’s existing generation capacity nearing the end of their lives and needing to be replaced by 2020, DECC also said that some new gas-fired power stations would have to complement nuclear and renewable energy sources.

This has the objective of reaching 30 per cent of electricity being generated by renewable sources in that year, up from an estimated 7 per cent today. This would also have to rise with greater electricity demand, which DECC estimates will double by 2050.

Some energy analysts claim the government’s plans may put Britain in a “high cost, low carbon” electricity market which involves consumers paying the price for more environmentally friendly power, with energy companies estimating it may cost them up to £200 billion in expenditure in power stations and networks over the next two decades.

The price comparison website uswitch argued the cost of the reforms could add £500 annually to the average energy bill; Mr Huhne, however, disagreed, arguing the rise would be much lower and if measures were not put in place it could cost even more and that the £500 claim was “absolutely bonkers“. The measures have been welcome by opposition MPs, but they have cautiously argued that consumers should not shoulder the cost of the reforms.

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