Home gas bills are set to rocket by a massive 37 per cent under plans to shift Britain to “green” energy sources unveiled by the Government.
Plans to generate a 10-fold increase in renewable energy in the UK will provide thousands of jobs, help tackle climate change and secure power supplies, ministers said.
The proposals, which include 7,000 new wind turbines on and offshore, were broadly welcomed by environmental campaigners.
But elsewhere concerns were raised over the £5 to £6 billion annual cost to the economy the moves would require, with fears much of it would be passed on to consumers and businesses.
A detailed 283-page document published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform revealed that the proposals would increase the cost of fuel.
It said: “By 2020, we estimate that the measures set out in this consultation document, taken together, could result in increases in electricity bills of 10 per cent to 13 per cent for domestic and 11 per cent to 15 per cent for industrial customers; increases in gas bills of 18 per cent to 37 per cent for domestic and 24 per cent to 49 per cent for industrial customers; and increases in petrol and diesel prices of 2 per cent to 4 per cent and 1 per cent to 3 per cent respectively.”
One Birmingham MP called on the Government on Thursday to focus on promoting home-made energy.
Lynne Jones (Lab Selly Oak) said Germany had already succeeded in encouraging residents to invest in “micro generation” technology such as solar panels and miniature wind turbines.
These allow ordinary householders to create their own electricity, saving money and potentially even making a profit by selling surplus energy to the national grid.
She said: “There is already a very successful model in operation in Germany. Instead of holding a long consultation, we should get on with making microgeneration work in this country.” The strategy forms part of a £100 billion private investment programme to create a “green revolution”, which Prime Minister Gordon Brown said was a huge opportunity to provide jobs and energy security and cut emissions.
Speaking at a low-carbon economy summit in London, Mr Brown said that in the face of an oil shock bigger than that seen in the 1970s, a long term strategy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and switch to renewables and nuclear was needed.
The PM said the plans to boost renewable power, which he described as “the most drastic change in energy policy since the advent of nuclear power”, would provide 160,000 “green collar” jobs.
A change to a low-carbon economy would require new lifestyles in the UK, along with innovation and creativity, he said.
But the CBI said the EU renewables target was neither pragmatic nor cost-effective and would cost the UK an additional £5 billion a year, “much of which will fall on businesses and households”.
The plans for the energy sector include:
* Generating 30 per cent or more of electricity from renewables including wind, biomass, hydro and a tidal barrage in the Severn Estuary;
* Extensions to the renewables obligation, which requires suppliers to source an increasing percentage of power from green energy, the creation of financial instruments to boost renewable heat and microgeneration;
* Measures to ensure biofuels are sustainable;
* The use of millions of tonnes of food waste from homes and businesses and wood waste from commercial sectors to help produce bioenergy;
* A growth in wind from 2006 levels of 2GW to 28GW by 2020, tripling onshore wind turbines from 2,000 to 6,000 and a further 3,000 turbines offshore.