12 Jul 2011

Landmark energy reforms unveiled

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne presents a white paper urging more than £110 bn to be spent over the next decade to meet the UK’s future energy needs.

The measures on electricity market reform are designed to give the “big six” utility companies incentives to renew the country’s energy infrastructure.

One of the key proposals is the introduction of contracts which guarantee long-term stable prices for electricity from low-carbon sources.

If the price of electricity outstrips the prices guaranteed in the contracts, companies will have to pay back the difference, preventing a windfall for low-carbon generators.

Drax power station

The measures will also aim to replace around one in four ageing power stations over the next decade, and cut the emission of greenhouse gases.

Read more: The latest from Channel 4 News Science Correspondent Tom Clarke

It’ll also help the UK to ease it’s reliance on fossil fuels by emphasising “clean, secure, green energy sources which don’t bounce around with world oil and gas prices,” according to Mr Huhne.

The Government wants to increase the share of renewable energy to 15 per cent by 2020.

As part of the plans, more than 2500 wind turbines will be installed around the coast over the next nine years.

Currently, Britain produces about 1.3GW of energy for the national grid from offshore wind-farms. But Mr Huhne wants to boost this to 18GW, equivalent to 3,000 turbines, with the Government to invest £30m in developing components.

Last week, British Gas raised its electricity and gas charges by 16 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Taking into account an earlier increase, its bills have climbed by some 25 per cent in the past eight months