Getting the UK off the “oil hook” will make the country’s economy more secure and stable, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said yesterday.
In a speech setting out plans for the move away from a dependence on fossil fuels, he said it would be crazy not to prepare for a low-carbon future.
He added that floods and heatwaves – expected to become more likely with climate change – would cost the UK billions of pounds, but argued there were opportunities to create jobs, growth and exports from the green economy.
Mr Huhne said policies to cut emissions would cost the consumer, but would be cheaper than the alternative of sticking with fossil fuels when oil exceeded $100 a barrel.
He said the UK Government’s Green Deal, due to get fully under way next year, would see energy-saving packages worth thousands of pounds installed into millions of homes, but there would be no upfront costs for consumers, with businesses installing the energy-saving measures and homeowners paying for the improvements from savings on their bills.
Mr Huhne also said the Green Deal model would be applied to businesses, while hard-to-heat homes and people in fuel poverty, struggling to pay the bills to heat their homes, would receive a subsidy.
The energy secretary said that as the scheme kicked in, it would bring a significant economic boost, driving manufacturing and creating jobs in areas such as insulation.
He also set out plans to reform the energy market, with support for all low-carbon technologies through a “guaranteed feed-in tariff for all” which would pay companies a set price for the green electricity they generated. A “capacity payment” would make sure the country could meet peaks in demand such as the advert break in Coronation Street when people put the kettle on.
Water pumped up hills and then released at peak times, interconnection with other European countries which do not have the same peak, companies arranging short-term switch off of freezers or fridges, and coal and gas plants fitted with technology to store their emissions would all be supported to help keep the lights on.
Industry body Oil and Gas UK declined to comment.