Local objections to nuclear power plants could be over-ridden under planning changes proposed by the government's energy review.
Mr Darling is hoping to accelerate the building of nuclear plants
Councils could alter the appearance and precise location of the sites but would be unable to reject power plants on the grounds they were not needed.
Trade Secretary Alistair Darling told the Financial Times a "statement of need" would prioritise energy projects.
He said the measures were necessary to ensure power supplies did not run out.
"Given the fact that we may need to replace a third of our electricity generation, there is a serious risk that one day we'll switch on the lights and there won't be gas or electricity unless we deal with this planning problem," he said.
He said the government needed to "streamline the planning laws for big infrastructure projects" to ensure proposals of national importance were identified at an early stage and seen through properly.
The idea of time limits for inquiries which had stalled was being considered, he said.
He also wanted to "make it easier... to replace power plants that are going out of commission".
The government's energy review is expected to be published next week.
Emphasising his backing for nuclear power, Mr Darling told the newspaper: "I've always been clear that a mix of electricity generation is good for two reasons.
"One is it means your eggs are not all in one basket and, in relation to security of supply, that is very important.
"Also, of course, nuclear generation itself does reduce carbon emissions."