Meeting targets on renewable energy will add about £80 ($123) to households’ annual fuel bills, peers said on Tuesday.
The planned expansion of wind energy would be “costly” and “risky”, said the Lords economic affairs committee, favouring more nuclear power stations, which would be cheaper.
They found that there was little scope to increase the supply of any renewable energy source except wind, which was problematic because of its intermittency. The Lords were “sceptical” that the UK could meet a European Union target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2050.
The peers, including Lord Lawson and Lord Lamont, the former Conservative chancellors, said the effort to meet the targets, which would require generation from renewable sources to expand from 5 per cent of electricity to 30 or 40 per cent, could encourage adoption of “an unnecessarily costly and risky approach to reducing carbon emissions”.
Wind generation should be seen largely as additional capacity rather than a substitute for the substantial number of old coal and nuclear plants which would have to be replaced by 2020, the committee said.
“The UK is most likely to adopt wind power as its main means of producing more renewable electricity,” said Lord Vallance, the chairman. “This has an inherent weakness in that it cannot be relied upon to generate electricity at the time it is needed. Current policies would take the UK into uncharted territory, with a dependence on intermittent supply unprecedented elsewhere in Europe.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it would work to “minimise the impact on consumer bills and help maintain competitiveness”.
“We are 100 per cent committed to meeting our share of the target. A massive expansion of renewables needs to form part of the UK’s future energy mix, alongside new nuclear and cleaner fossil fuels, to provide secure energy and fight … climate change.”