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16 April 2010

Election 2010: Party promises | Energy

What Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are promising on energy.

By Jennifer Thompson


On renewables:

We are committed to meeting 15 per cent of our energy demand from renewables by 2020. We already have more offshore wind-power than any other country in the world, and our plans could see this increase up to 40 times, alongside other renewable technologies such as tidal and marine, solar and sustainable bio-energy. We will make a decision early in the next Parliament on the feasibility of alternative options for a tidal energy project on the Severn, taking full account of the environmental impacts.

On nuclear energy and power stations:

We have taken the decisions to enable a new generation of nuclear power stations, and a programme of four clean coal plants with carbon capture and storage technology with a levy to fund them. We are the only Government in the world to have banned new unabated coal-fired power stations.

On new energy infrastructure:

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We are planning for around 40 per cent of our electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2020 – renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels. A major drive for energy efficiency will be enhanced by a ‘smart grid’ using new information technologies.

To secure this investment – likely to be worth around £150 billion over the next decade – we have reformed the planning system to reduce delays for major infrastructure. We will now reform the regulatory system to provide the certainty that investors need, and create a Green Investment Bank to help finance this transformation.

On energy bills:

To deliver the fairest deal for consumers, we will ensure greater competition in the energy supply market. And we will review the role of the water regulator, Ofwat, to ensure customers get the best deal and their voice is heard in pricesetting.

Labour is determined to end fuel poverty and create a fair energy system for all. We will introduce a new Warm Home Standard for social housing and regulate landlords so that privately rented accommodation is properly insulated. We have legislated for compulsory contributions from energy companies to protect the vulnerable.


On emissions:

Introduce an Emissions Performance Standard to set a legal limit on the emissions from power stations; Deliver a 10 per cent cut in central government carbon emissions within 12 months of coming to office.

On power plants:

Create four carbon capture and storage equipped power plants. Clearing the way for new nuclear power stations – provided they receive no public subsidy.

On improving energy efficiency:

Transforming electricity networks with ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart meter’ technology; Create a ‘Green Deal’, giving every home up to £6,500 worth of energy improvement measures – paid for out of the savings made on fuel bills.

On energy generation:

Deliver an offshore electricity grid and establish at least two Marine Energy Parks; Allow communities that host renewable energy projects like wind farms to keep the additional business rates they generate for six years; Provide incentives for smaller-scale energy generation. Putting in place supply guarantees in the gas and electricity markets – ensuring that sufficient electricity generating capacity is maintained and setting an obligation on gas suppliers to ensure that supplies are in place throughout the year. Reforming the Climate Change Levy to provide a floor price for carbon, delivering the right climate for investment.

On energy bills:

Ensure that every energy bill provides information on how to move to the cheapest tariff offered by their supplier and how their energy usage compares to similar households; and reform the Post Office Card Account to give up to 4 million people access to lower tariffs.

Liberal Democrat

On energy bills:

Change the tariffs used by energy supply companies so that the first, essential, energy you use is the cheapest. We’ll ensure that effective energy efficiency measures are introduced to keep bills low and that ‘social tariffs’ are available to guarantee the best price for all those in most need. We will seek to extend protection and support to ‘off-gasgrid’ consumers. Address unfairness in water charges by consulting on the implementation of the Walker Review which recommended action to deal with regional unfairness in water charges.

On renewable and low-carbon energy:

Set a target for 40 per cent of UK electricity to come from clean, non-carbon-emitting sources by 2020, rising to 100 per cent by 2050, underpinned by guaranteed price support; and ensure that at least three-quarters of this new renewable energy comes from marine and offshore sources. Set out a clear renewables routemap to 2050, covering grid access and investment in electricity networks, and develop new incentives to promote renewable heat. Invest up to £400 million in refurbishing shipyards in the North of England and Scotland so that they can manufacture offshore wind turbines and other marine renewable energy equipment.

On energy infrastructure:

Transform the electricity networks into a dynamic electricity grid that can better connect and integrate new, clean energy technologies particularly through the better use of sub-sea connections, leading to the development of a European Supergrid.

On energy efficiency:

Launch an ‘Eco Cash-Back’ scheme, for one year only, which will give you £400 if you install double glazing, replace an old boiler, or install micro-generation. If you choose micro-generation, you will be able to sell the energy back to the National Grid at a profit, with a more attractive feed-in tariff than under current government plans. Set aside extra money for schools to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. They will pay back the loan over time from energy savings, creating a rolling fund to help insulate all public buildings.

Invest £140 million in a bus scrappage scheme that helps bus companies to replace old polluting buses with new low-carbon ones and creates jobs.

Improve energy effi ciency in the commercial and public sectors, by strengthening the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and requiring companies and government departments to report on their energy use and set targets for reducing it. We will set a 30 per cent energy efficiency improvement target for 2020, and will commit the government to the goals of the 10:10 campaign as a first step.

Begin a ten-year programme of home insulation, offering a home energy improvement package of up to £10,000 per home, paid for by the savings from lower energy bills, and make sure every new home is fully energy-effi cient by improving building regulations.

On power stations:

Block any new coal-fired power stations – the most polluting form of power generation – unless they are accompanied by the highest level of carbon capture and storage facilities. Reject a new generation of nuclear power stations; based on the evidence nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable energy.

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