Twenty new gas-fired power stations are likely to be built in the UK, amounting to a massive increase in consumption of the fossil fuel, the climate and energy secretary, Ed Davey, has told the Guardian.
But Davey insisted the expansion – the biggest construction effort in the power sector for decades – would not harm the prospects for investment in renewable energy or in the government's carbon reduction targets.
He said: "I strongly support more gas, just as I strongly support more renewable energy. We need a big expansion of renewable energy and of gas if we are to tackle our climate change challenges."
Davey is expected to announce a new gas strategy this autumn, which will require the investment of hundreds of billions of pounds in new electricity generation capacity and dictate the shape and construction of the UK's energy infrastructure for decades to come. But environmental groups and renewable energy investors are concerned that a new "dash for gas" would put carbon targets beyond reach and deter investment in renewables.