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Tilting at windmills

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Business lobby group the CBI is calling on the government to reduce its reliance on wind power to hit greenhouse gas targets.

The group is worried that government policy does not offer enough juicy subsidies to nuclear power and so-called "clean coal" technology.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "The Government’s disjointed approach is deterring the private sector investment needed to get our energy system up to scratch, bolster security and cut emissions.

“While we have generous subsidies for wind power, we urgently need the national planning statements needed to build new nuclear plants. If we carry on like this we will end up putting too many of our energy eggs in one basket."

The lobbyists want the government to cut the percentage of energy sourced from wind in targets set for 2020, speed up investment in the electricity grid and get funding in place for Carbon Capture and Storage plants by June 2010.

The study looked at energy investment based on two routes - one following goverment policy and one a "balanced pathway".

The CBI said that following "business as usual" would mean that by 2030 gas would contribute 36 per cent of the UK energy, 24 per cent from wind, 20 per cent from nuclear, 12 per cent form other renewables, eight per cent from clean coal and one per cent from dirty coal. This would mean missing emissions targets - 64 per cent of electricity would come from low carbon sources rather than 78 per cent.

On the other hand a "balanced pathway" would see gas providing only 16 per cent of energy by 2030. Nuclear would take the lion's share with 34 per cent, wind would take 20 per cent, 15 per cent would come from other renewables, 14 per cent from clean coal and two per cent from normal coal. This, we are told, would mean 83 per cent of UK electricity would come from low carbon sources.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We're on track with our promise to remove costly unnecessary barriers to new nuclear, such as the planning reforms already in train.

"We've said we'll support the construction of up to four clean coal demonstration plants, that's more than any other government in the world. And our analysis suggests that a massive expansion in wind, wave, tidal and other renewables can - and must - sit alongside this."

The CBI report is available here (pdf). ®

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