Where business falls short, the European Union will pick up the slack by investing in new energy projects and infrastructure networks, according to the EC’s energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger.

He said if Europe wanted to achieve its energy targets and maintain a global technological lead, “then we must invest heavily”.

Writing in Public Service Europe, he said: “We need new electricity connections between the south and north, and the east and west, because economically it is certainly more attractive to produce solar energy in Spain – with twice as many hours of sunshine as Germany – and to produce wind energy in the North Sea rather than anywhere else.”

He said costs could only be reduced if Europe its geographical advantages and attained “a critical mass in production”.

Oettinger said his aim was “to bring Europe closer to the long held vision of a European energy policy based on a sound network. Networks are the arteries of our energy system. By investing in them, we will be investing in the economy and helping consumers.”