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The question: Energy supply

British Gas has blamed the rising cost of wholesale gas for putting up bills by an average £47.50 over the next year. What should Britain do to ensure we have affordable and reliable electricity in the future?

The UK should up energy efficiency standards for new development and gas-using plant and equipment.

We should institute an assisted programme, using grants and tax breaks, to improve energy efficiency in existing properties.

These might include partial refunds of house purchase tax for works undertaken to improve insulation or heating system efficiency at the time of purchase. The UK should also move faster to develop new green energy sources and launch public awareness campaigns on the need to conserve energy.

Dave Merrett, 50, senior engineer, York

For years we have been musing over the best way to continue to satisfy the human lust for electricity once the fossil fuel resources have been exhausted. All alternatives considered to date seem to have drawbacks. With nuclear there is the danger of an accident, wind farms attract the 'not in my backyard' factor and solar has to put up with the unpredictability of the British summer. There is, however, one source of energy that I do not believe has been explored. This is the hot air generated by politicians, pinko commie do gooders and instigators of namby pamby legislation. If anyone can perfect a device to transform this into electricity then we have an inexhaustible supply to power the world for the rest of eternity.

Robert Pike, 42, project manager, Exeter

Give big tax breaks or incentives to companies or individuals who use sustainable energy sources to heat, light and power buildings, reducing consumption demand.

That will be popular with the privatised gas and electricity boards and their poor shareholders: NOT. Eventually we will re-nationalise the lot anyway.

Power to the People.

Paul McCormick, 38, managing director, Ashby-dela-Zouch

Perhaps we should look at reducing our demand for electricity rather than trying to find ever increasing supplies.

Brian Rousell, 32, technical services, Sussex

We need to be more efficient in the generation and transmission of power and in the way we as consumers use it. Attempting to provide more and more power generation will inevitably fail.

James McLeod, 32, senior engineer, Dumfries

Get the government to drastically increase investment in power produced by wind and wave. But if you think it will actually happen then the sky has just gone pink.

John D Brownlie, 56, project director, Shrewsbury

Britain is an island so we have a vast supply of free, clean energy all round us. Wave and particularly tidal power is where investment should go.

Kenneth Brown, 32, structures engineer, Edinburgh

We will need to look at energy efficiency. My latest company car can do 60mpg: the previous one did a measly 40mpg. We need to develop our alternative energy sources of wind and wave power and ensure the public is informed of the choice between extra costs for existing energy sources versus the environmental costs and issues with these new sources. The big debate needs to start now. Turn off those lights as you leave the office.

Mike Jackson, 47, technical director, Preston

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