The government has confirmed that it will increase the amount of electricity generation that it procures through its capacity market scheme, and will do so earlier than had been planned.

The capacity market aims to ensure Britain’s security of supply by providing a “top-up” payment to power stations for guaranteeing electricity supplies in winter months when demand is highest.

The UK will push ahead with proposals to bring forward the first year of delivery to 2017-18, as well as increasing the amount of capacity secured and introducing tougher penalties for reneging on contracts.

The government said the reforms would “better safeguard our energy security so we can protect families and businesses from spikes in energy costs in the future”.

However, the reforms have received criticism from the opposition Labour Party, which highlighted how the scheme was financed through levies on energy bills. Shadow energy and climate change secretary Lisa Nandy said: “Every […] energy bill is to shoot up to pay for these gross new handouts to the big energy companies. The worst part is that this scheme is a massive waste of money. It has been so badly designed it isn’t getting new power stations built but instead is just lining the pockets of the Big Six and investors in highly-polluting diesel generators.”

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