By Andrew Porter
Demand for power from homes and businesses will exceed supply from the national grid within eight years, according to official figures.
The shortage of supplies will hit the equivalent of many as 16 million families for at least one hour during the year, it is forecast.
Not since the early 1970s when the three-day week was introduced to preserve coal has Britain faced the prospect of reationing energy use.
The gap between Britain’s energy needs and demand throws fresh doubt on the Government’s assertion that renewable energy can make up for dwindling nuclear and coal capabilities.
Over the next 10 years, one third of Britain’s power-generating capacity needs to be replaced with cleaner fuels. But last night the Conservatives said that Labour had refused to face up to the problem.