Renewable energy is lowering energy prices not increasing them, according to Scotland's energy minister

Renewables 'lead to lower energy prices'

Energy bills would be even higher than at present without renewables, Scotland's energy minister has warned.

Fergus Ewing told the SNP conference in Perth that UK Government's Department of Energy and Climate Change figures show bills would be £166 a year higher by the end of this decade without energy such as wind, wave and tidal.

Last week power firm SSE blamed its decision to raise gas and electricity bills by up to 10 per cent for millions of households on the sharp rise in levies to pay for low-carbon generation and energy efficiency.

And yesterday British Gas, which operates in Scotland as Scottish Gas, also claimed that Government energy schemes are one reason it is hiking prices by 10.4 per cent for electricity and 8.4 per cent gas from next month.

Regional variations mean prices for households in the north of Scotland – where electricity is distributed by Scottish Hydro – will rise by as much as 11.2 per cent. In Fife and in central and southern Scotland – covered by Scottish Power – customers will be charged 9.5 per cent more.

"Actually, renewables lead to lower energy prices,” said Ewing. "Were there no renewable energy then that of course would be displaced by gas prices. And what has happened to them? In other words, if there was not renewable energy in the quantities that there now are and are anticipated to be then energy bills would be even higher.

"So do not accept the myths, the fallacies and the distortions spread by those who are opposed to renewable energy."

Renewables would also provide security of supply, new jobs and lower carbon emissions, Mr Ewing said. The SNP administration aims to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland's electricity requirements from renewables by 2020.

Last week SSE chief executive Alistair Philips-Davies called for a debate on the "green agenda" which he claimed will lead to more bill increases in the future.

Bills would fall by £110 per household overnight if green energy subsidies and the cost of other schemes, such as free loft insulation, were funded through the tax system, according to SSE.

"Maybe it's time to retreat from decarbonisation and focus more on the cost of living. I think we have to have a debate about it. Do we want to be replacing one bit of (energy) generation that we can keep going for a bit longer with a new bit of generation that's going to cost more?'' Phillips-Davies asked.

"I doubt the public like price increases of this magnitude but if we carry on firmly behind the green agenda, we will continue to have price increases like this.''

Yesterday Ian Peters, managing director of British Gas Residential Energy, said: "What's pushing up energy prices at the moment are costs that are not all directly under our control, such as the global price of energy, charges that we have to pay for using the national grid that delivers energy to the home, and the cost of the Government's social and environmental programmes."

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