Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Tories plan 'energy revolution'

A Mini Cooper Mini E being charged
Electric cars need to be charged at special plug-points

Street plug-points for electric cars, smart meters, and energy efficiency loans for homes are among Tory plans for an "energy revolution".

David Cameron launched plans he said would lower carbon emissions, create jobs and reduce oil and gas imports.

He said a 1bn upgrade for the national grid would encourage people to generate their own power and boost renewables.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband dismissed the plans as "a bad combination of the reheated and the uncosted".

Launching what the party calls its green paper on low carbon, Mr Cameron said even those who were not convinced by climate change had to recognise the need for "energy security" - reducing reliance on countries like Russia and the Middle East for oil and gas.

Secure energy

And he said there was no reason why, if electricity networks were updated to include computer intelligence, people should not be saving money in future.

This would include a "smart grid" and smart meters in homes - which monitor kitchen appliances every second, altering the amount of power that is sent down the line to ensure only the minimum necessary is used.

The stuff in this paper will help employ people and create jobs
David Cameron

Mr Cameron said it would make it possible to have "the Holy Trinity of big supplies of secure energy, green low-carbon energy and cheap energy", by removing the requirement for the grid to have huge excess capacity in order to meet fluctuating demand.

The Conservatives say it would also pave the way for large-scale use of renewable energy sources, by introducing "feed in tariffs" - paid by power companies to people who generate power via wind turbines and solar panels.

They would also make more use of technologies like tidal power and biogas - creating power out of the waste vegetable matter from farms or households.

They say they would introduce a new "national recharging network" to encourage the use of electric cars and hybrid cars.

Wind power

Energy companies would borrow money, underwritten by the government, to fit every home with up to 6,500 of energy efficiency improvements - like insulation.

Householders would then repay the loan over up to 25 years through their fuel bills. The Conservatives say they would still save money because bills would be lower.

The Tories like to posture on climate change when the cameras are pointed their way, but they simply cannot be trusted to deliver
Nick Clegg
Liberal Democrats

There would be incentives to "vastly expand" offshore wind and marine power, and backing for a network of marine energy parks.

"The stuff in this paper will help employ people and create jobs," Mr Cameron said.

"It will help cut people's bills as well and transform our lives and give them a higher quality.

"In this recession we have got to do things that are both good for us now but also good for us in the future."

Cost effective

The proposals were welcomed by energy campaigners. Philip Sellwood, head of the Energy Saving Trust, said they were "absolutely spot on".

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said the Conservatives appeared to "be taking a leaf out of [US president elect] Obama's book and looking to stimulate the economy by boosting the green industries of the future."


But he said for it to be "fully convincing", Mr Cameron should be clear he would rule out all "dirty" coal fired power stations - including plans for a new plant at Kingsnorth, Kent.

Mr Miliband accused Mr Cameron of having "no idea" how he was going to find the money to make homes more energy efficient or for any of the other proposals.

"He has actually promised to cut budgets across the board - including cuts which could fall on our programmes which help the poorest keep warm," he said.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats said the Tories could not be trusted to "deliver" in the battle against climate change.

Leader Nick Clegg said: "This announcement is like David Cameron riding his bike, but what is important is what is in the car behind him.

"In there we find a Conservative Party that despite all its rhetoric will dodge a vote on Heathrow's third runway; that supports future nuclear power plants; and that's so anti-Europe it fails to understand that the only way to fight climate change is to work together internationally.

"The Tories like to posture on climate change when the cameras are pointed their way, but they simply cannot be trusted to deliver."

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