The report also argues that a 2030 decarbonisation target will prove the most successful strategy on the sustainability, security and affordability of energy.

It also states that the most viable way of achieving sustainable energy will be to switch the UK’s reliance on coal to gas generation, while using fossil fuel power stations increasingly for backup.

However, the report, entitled Future Electricity Part 1: Power from Fossil Fuels, warns of several risks surrounding existing government plans.

It argues that failure to close down a large number of coal power stations could result in high carbon emissions during the 2020s and that the Government’s support for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will not be sufficient to meet carbon targets cost effectively.

The report also states that while there is an important backup role for gas power stations in the 2020’s, the potential for UK shale gas is highly uncertain and unlikely to give the UK cheap gas.

Chair of the report and former energy minister Charles Hendry said: “Rhetoric in the energy debate has frequently sought to exploit political divides, often ignoring areas of consensus and driving political uncertainty.

“This uncertainty has far-reaching consequences in a sector where power stations are built and operated by companies, often with international portfolios and investment opportunities. Consensus amongst politicians and parties is therefore particularly important in keeping investment flowing and the costs of finance down.”

Conor McGlone

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie