Prospect of rise in energy costs for business

Businesses have been warned that they could see a steep rise in energy costs over the coming years.

Emission cutting targets could mean an increase in business energy bills by as much as 26 per cent by 2020.

The estimates were announced as Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, made the first annual energy statement to the House of Commons.

The Minister said: "The era of cheap, abundant energy is over. We must find smart ways of making energy go further, and value it for the costly resource it is, not take it for granted.

"And even as we reduce overall demand for energy, we may need to meet a near doubling in demand for electricity, as we shift industry, transport and heating onto the grid. There are big choices and big trade-offs in how we do this."

One of the documents included in the review outlined the likely impact on UK business.

If the emission reduction policies were to be introduced now, an average SME could anticipate a 14 per cent rise in its energy bills.

By 2015, bills would be 11 per cent higher than in 2009; by 2020, bills would be 26 per cent higher than in 2009.