Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has paved the way for a controversial increase in wind turbines to prevent the UK suffering a power crisis.
Mr Huhne spoke out in favour of extra onshore and offshore wind power as he prepared to make a key policy statement to the Commons on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the Liberal Democrat cabinet minister also insisted the government had “no money” to subsidise new nuclear plants.
But he said he expected such power stations would go ahead - even though under the coalition agreement Lib Dem MPs can register their opposition by abstaining from any parliamentary vote.
The comments came at the end of a difficult week for the coalition, after criticism of Nick Clegg’s stand-in performance at PMQs and an opinion poll showing support for the Lib Dems falling to just 13%.
Mr Huhne said it was vital that Britain became more independent in energy production to allow it to withstand “shocks from the outside world” which could send prices soaring for both households and businesses.
“There is going to be a strong emphasis on the economic benefit of becoming more independent of energy imports. The lights will not go out on my watch,” he said.
Currently the UK imports nearly a third of its energy - much of it from unstable regions such as Russia and the Middle East.
Mr Huhne said onshore wind turbines were “incredibly competitive” in producing electricity, but admitted they were “not always as popular in the area where (they are) proposed as you might hope”.
He identified Dogger Bank in the North Sea as a prime area for further development.
“Offshore wind, I think partly as a result of fewer planning issues, is likely to be an important part of our energy independence going forward,” he said.
“We have a tremendous natural resource in the Dogger Bank, which is an enormous shallow area of the North Sea, the same size as Wales.”