Gas not green policies causes high energy bills

30th December 2011


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IEMA

Increases in the wholesale costs of gas have caused recent hikes in household energy bills, not the government's commitment to cut carbon emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

In an analysis of average annual fuel bills for homes over 2004–2010, the CCC reveals that of the £455 increase over the seven years, just £75 had been the result of policies supporting low-carbon technologies and reducing carbon emissions, in comparison to £290 as a result of gas prices.

The CCC’s research (lexisurl.com/iema11454) also debunks the view perpetuated in the popular press that energy bills will rise dramatically over the coming decade as a result of investments in green policies such as the carbon budgets and renewable energy targets.

Looking forward to 2020, and taking into consideration the billions of pounds that will be investment in renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS), the committee estimates that household bills are likely to rise by only £110 as a result, compared to a likely increase of £175 from gas prices.

Furthermore, the CCC says that by embracing greater energy efficiency, household bills in 2020 could remain on a par with those of 2010 (£1,060). Insulation, better use of heating control and the replacement of boilers and electrical appliances with more efficient models could see annual bills rise to just £1,085 according to the research.

However, the CCC admits that such savings won’t be achieved without new government policies strongly incentivising energy efficiency.

In a separate report examining the equally controversial topic of the roll of bioenergy in a low-carbon economy (lexisurl.com/iema11453), the CCC warned government that biomass should not be used to generate electricity unless effective CCS technology is available.

Looking forward to 2050, the committee concludes that even with CCS bioenergy should not provide more than 10% of the UK’s total energy needs, due to the competing social and environmental needs for land.

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