Energy minister urges greater UK energy choices

October 1, 2013

Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker has called for the UK energy market to have more competition, and to increase the use of technology to achieve fairer energy prices. 

Instead of there being a 'Big Six' when it comes to energy suppliers, Mr Barker instead hopes to see a 'Big 60,000', which would decrease the dominance of companies like Centrica, EDF, Eon, RWE, Iberdrola, and Scottish and Southern Energy in the gas and electricity markets. In fact, the minister called for an "explosion in choice" in the energy sector. 

The announcement has come shortly after Labour leader Ed Miliband revealed details of his intention to freeze energy prices, should his party enter power after the next election. 

However, Mr Barker attacked these proposals, stating the coalition intends to enhance competition in the energy sector, while Labour wants to take the UK back to the 1970's. 

He went on to champion the use of new technology, suggesting that by utilising renewable systems the UK could have a "more plural energy economy". 

Mr Barker further suggested that using more local power generation, through solar or wind farm schemes, could also help to improve competition. He also claimed Mr Miliband's proposals would make it even more difficult for the UK to meet energy goals. 

The Conservative party conference is currently underway in Manchester, and Mr Barker told his party peers that the country is in need of large solar arrays, but suggested that these should be built on 'brownfield' former industrial land rather than the UK countryside. 

“There are plenty of places where it can deployed without ruining the countryside or visual amenity,” he told the crowd. “Local planners occasionally need to have a bit more backbone.”

Earlier this year Mr Barker had set out a target to see solar farms provide 20GW of solar demand by 2020, but seems determined to ensure the UK's landscape is not a victim of this aim. 

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