Many on the right of the Tory party have been clamouring for an end to onshore windfarms. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
Investing in new renewable power generation, rather than a "dash for gas", will be the lower-cost option for keeping the lights on while cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the government's climate change watchdog has said.
The sooner the UK makes large investments in low-carbon generation – including offshore and onshore wind, nuclear power and energy from waste – the cheaper it will be, according to David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the statutory body that advises ministers on meeting emissions targets.
The conclusions are likely to be controversial, as many MPs on the right of the Tory party have been clamouring for an end to onshore windfarms and reductions in renewable subsidies.
They would prefer to see a new "dash for gas" that would require the UK to massively expand shale gas drilling and import tens of billions of pounds worth of fuel each year as North Sea reserves run down. They point to lower gas prices in the US that have resulted from the aggressive pursuit of shale resources.
The CCC's analysis found that investing in renewable energy made sense even if the price of gas was relatively low. Previous analysis by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) relied on scenarios of large increases in the gas price to make renewables and other forms of low-carbon power, such as nuclear, more economic.
Kennedy told the Guardian: "Not investing in renewables only makes sense if you don't want to meet our emissions targets – if you tear up the Climate Change Act."