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UK needs to shift to renewables to protect from energy crises, MPs and experts say

The UK needs to shift to renewables to protect itself from energy crises such as the current one, politicians and experts have said.

The country has been urged to move to “incredibly cheap” and green sources of energy as household bills are set to rocket yet again.

The current energy crisis behind the rising cost of living has been sparked by surging gas prices, shining a light on the UK’s reliance on this fossil fuel.

MPs and experts have said renewables are the answer to making the UK less vulnerable to such a volatile market.

Adam Corlett, the principal economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank, told The Independent the current energy crisis “puts up in lights both our over-reliance on fossil fuels, and how we should have done more to ensure that everyone’s home is well-insulated”.

He said: “Britain’s energy bills crisis is far from over – and should serve as a warning to quicken our transition towards a net zero economy.”

A further increase to the energy price cap was confirmed on Thursday, paving the way for millions to see household bills rise by more than 50 per cent.

Following this, Sam Hall, the chair of the  Conservative Environment Network, said: “We’ll be exposed to similar crises for as long as we are so reliant on gas.”

He added: “The government must now deliver its net zero strategy to make UK households less exposed to global gas markets.”

A report in The Telegraph suggested that Cabinet ministers are questioning whether the move to net zero emissions – which the government has committed to achieve by 2050 – was the right thing to do amid the energy crisis and soaring bills.

But Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change and net zero secretary, told The Independent a “failure to transition to zero carbon” has made the UK “more vulnerable as a country”.

“Climate delay will make us more dependent on fossil fuels, leaving us more exposed to unstable global gas prices, meaning higher bills, and undermining our energy security,” he said.

Jamie Peters, from environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, told The Independent: “Renewable energy is incredibly cheap and there’s an abundance of it at our fingertips. Knowing this, every effort should be made to increase our supply, and attempts to discredit the net zero agenda shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

On the same day the UK’s energy price cap increased, chancellor Rishi Sunak said he wanted to encourage more investment in oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the UK would not emerge from the energy crisis through a “rapid U-turn to the fossil fuel era”.

Writing inThe Independent, she said the solution was through “rapidly speeding up the transition to energy efficiency and renewables so we address the climate emergency and make ourselves less vulnerable to global price rises”.

Greg Hands, the energy minister, also said the UK needs to generate “more clean, secure and affordable power” in order to protect itself from volatile gas prices, as he “debunked” some “myths” around energy.

Experts have told The Independent that the crisis has been fuelled by the UK dragging its feet on renewable energy – which faced a blow when a previous Tory government removed subsidies for onshore wind farms for several years.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Since 2010 we have delivered a 500 per cent increase in the amount of renewable energy capacity connected to the grid – more than any other government in British history.

“We remain committed to go even further and faster to build a homegrown renewables sector and reduce our reliance on volatile fossil fuels, and just last month we launched the biggest renewable energy auction to accelerate deployment.”

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