Britain could face a major shortage of electricity in the New Year following decades of government mismanagement, a report warns today.
For the first time ever, demand is expected to outstrip supply in March after green taxes put vital power plants out of business, according to experts.
Meanwhile the Energy Secretary will today say Britain must end its dependence on coal and embark on a new ‘dash for gas’ over the next decade to keep the lights on.
Amber Rudd will announce that new gas and nuclear power stations will replace ageing coal plants as energy security is made the ‘first priority’ of the Government.
The Centre for Policy Studies report will point out that electricity bills have risen on average by 131 per cent in real terms – or some £705 – over the last ten years.
Energy analyst Tony Lodge, who wrote the report, argues successive governments have allowed plants to close that were needed to secure the country’s energy future.
As a result, Britain has lost around one fifth of its generating capacity over the last five years.
The report concludes that ministers should abandon carbon taxes, which are forcing power plants to shut.
In a major speech, Miss Rudd will signal a shift away from the relentless pursuit of renewable energy regardless of cost.
Instead, she will say fossil fuels will remain a central plank of power generation in the future as ministers aim for a ‘consumer-led, competition-focused energy system’.
‘In the next ten years, it’s imperative that we get new gas-fired power stations built.’ A raft of ageing coal power stations will be taken out of service as early as 2023.
She will say that nuclear power is ‘safe and reliable’ and ‘also central to our energy-secure future’.
‘There are plans for a new fleet of nuclear power stations. This huge investment could provide up to 30 per cent of the low-carbon electricity which we are likely to need through the 2030s.’ Since assuming office after the election, Miss Rudd has slashed subsidies for ‘green’ energy including onshore wind and solar. She will criticise Labour for providing a subsidy ‘for every technology regardless of its costs or contribution to energy security and carbon reduction’.
It comes two weeks after major industries were asked for the first time to shut down to protect energy supplies due to a combination of high demand, power plant breakdowns and very low supply from wind farms. It meant businesses were paid to cut their power usage for four hours.