A think-tank with close links to Labour is urging the Government to drop plans to build nuclear power stations and instead encourage people to generate electricity in their homes.
The left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research calls on Tony Blair today to stop "pandering" to the industries of the previous century and devise a new approach to cutting emissions and tackling climate change. In a report, Power to the People, the institute says technologies are becoming available that will allow household central heating boilers to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of the typical home.
The think-tank says such an approach would greatly reduce the amount of energy wasted by conventional electricity generation. It estimates that only 30 per cent of the energy used to generate electricity reaches the consumer because of the heat lost in cooling towers.
The report is a setback to the nuclear movement, which has marshalled growing support in government for the argument that Britain can only guarantee security of supply and meet its Kyoto environmental targets by sanctioning a £10bn programme of 10 new nuclear power stations.
The institute was one of the architects of the Government's climate change levy and has considerable influence over Labour's energy policy.
The report says that, in addition to small combined heat and power generators, by 2020 homes will benefit from energy-saving devices such as solar roof panels, solar thermal water heating and remote switching for water heaters and refrigerators.
Chris Hewett, the report's author, said: "The next generation of energy technologies is able to generate power and heat more cost-effectively in the homes and offices where we need it. Such a system is far more secure, flexible and clean than returning to the nuclear age or limping along with fossil fuels. The Government's energy review must design policy for this century rather than pandering to the industries of the last."