The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises the British Government on important climate-related issues, has contradicted the Coalition’s own research by claiming reliance on gas as a source of energy will prove more costly than switching to renewables.
Using data produced by government officials, the CCC discovered that gas would not result in cheaper bills than renewables over the next ten years; instead, reliance on gas would inflate the average annual bill by approximately £600, whereas investment in renewable sources of power would only add £100.
At present, energy consumers can expect to pay around £1,300 a year for gas and electricity. Senior government officials argue that greater investment in renewable energy would significantly increase energy bills, as consumers would be required to subsidise the leading energy suppliers, the six largest of which in the UK generate substantial profits every year. Casting doubt on the Government’s research, the CCC believes that the cost of switching to renewables would increase energy bills to £1,400, whilst relying on gas will push bills closer to the £2,000 mark.
Speaking to the Guardian, the CCC’s Chief Executive, David Kennedy, said: “You hear a lot about the costs of moving to low-carbon power systems, but not much about the benefits. What we are showing is that a key benefit is the insurance you get against potentially very high gas prices and rising carbon prices”.
Mr Kennedy questioned whether the Coalition, which promised to be the ‘greenest ever government’, has the desire to implement sufficiently robust environmental policies. At present, Mr Kennedy believes the framework is not in place to support renewables, meaning that the Government is potentially condemning millions of households to a more expensive, less environmentally friendly future.
One reason why government ministers appear keen to rely on gas at a time when wholesale energy prices are increasing and the security of fuel-producing nations remains fragile is that they could be pinning their hopes on fracking, which has been denounced by environmentalists but is expected to be allowed to resume (a trial in Lancashire produced two minor earthquakes, prompting officials to call for more scientific studies) this week.
Households can take the matter into their own hands to an extent by installing renewable technology such as solar photovoltaic panels and geothermal heat pumps.