Embargo: Immediate Friday 25 April 2008
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee are today launching a new inquiry into the economics of renewable energy.

The Committee will look in detail at the prospects for the increased use of renewable energy which under EU targets should make up 15% of the UK's total energy use by 2020. Figures show that only 1.8% of Britain's energy came from renewable sources in 2006.

The inquiry aims to set out the costs and benefits of renewable energy and compare those with other sources of energy. The Committee will deliver an objective analysis that provides an economic assessment of the Government's policy towards the increased use of renewable energy.

Commenting, Lord Vallance, Chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said:

"Renewable energy is expected to play an important role in reducing carbon emissions but we know comparatively little about the possible costs and benefits.

"Our Committee will analyse in detail the potential costs and benefits of an increased use of renewable energy sources and how they stack up against non-renewable sources.

"We would welcome evidence from any interested parties to what will be a thorough and detailed inquiry."

Some of the issues the Committee will examine are:

  • How does and should renewable energy fit into Britain's overall energy policy? How does the UK's policy compare with that of other countries?
  • What are the barriers to the greater use of renewable energy? Are there technical limits to the amount of renewable energy the UK can absorb? Will technological changes make renewable energy cheaper and more viable?
  • What can the government do to promote the greater use of renewable energy and encourage more investment in the associated technology?
  • How much investment in Britain's electricity transmission and distribution networks will be necessary to enable a significant increase in the use of renewables?
  • What are the external costs associated with different forms of renewable energy, such as the impact on rural areas of an increase in wind farms?
  • How do the costs of generating electricity from renewable sources compare with fossil fuels and nuclear power? What are the estimated costs of carbon capture and storage technologies in future and how do these compare to renewable generation? What impact do these various forms of generation have on carbon emissions?
  • What are the costs and benefits of the current generation of bio-fuels? Will there be a second generation of bio-fuels and, if so, how will its costs and benefits differ?

The Committee welcome written evidence from any interested parties. Evidence should reach the Committee by the 16 June 2008.

Notes to Editors

  1. The full Call for Evidence and full details of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee is available online at:
  2. The current membership of the Committee is:

Lord Vallance of Tummel (Chairman)

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston

Lord Best

Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market

Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach

Lord Moonie

Lord Kingsdown

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Lamont of Lerwick

Lord Paul

Lord Lawson of Blaby

Lord Turner of Ecchinswell

Lord Layard