According to a report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the Greens envisage the introduction of a scheme similar to that imposed by the British chancellor Gordon Brown in 1997.

Then, Mr Brown imposed a levy on the profits of utility companies that the government felt were making excess profits at the expense both of consumers and of the environment.

The newspaper report cites work by Professor Uwe Leprich of Saarbrucken University, and points to leading utilities in France and Germany enjoying profits in excess of E20 billion over the next two years. Professor Leprich’s work suggests that companies such as E.ON, EDF and Vattenfall have grown fat on the back of low generating overheads coupled with massively inflated wholesale energy prices.