THERE is no end in sight to the energy crisis, with household bills expected to soar further.

That’s the warning to Scots from the head of Ofgem, who said that the rise in wholesale prices would hit customers but insisted that the regulator’s new higher price cap was "good value".

Energy bills for 15 million households were set to increase by at least £139 under the price cap introduced at the start of October, as suppliers grapple with soaring wholesale prices following the collapse of many smaller firms.

Ofgem's CEO, Jonathan Brearley, told Holyrood's energy committee it was "too early to tell" what impact the crisis would have on bills in the longer term, but that the higher costs would be passed on to customers.

He said the priority was maintaining energy supply for consumers rather than "bailing out companies that were failing".

"We have seen unprecedented changes in the gas price, and that is putting strain on the wholesale market", the Ofgem chief executive told MSPs.

"There is still change in the market and it does depend on the trajectory of the gas price over time. But with a change like this which we're seeing in the wholesale market, there will be an impact that feeds through to customer bills."

Brearley added: "Changes in the wholesale price are going to be pretty difficult for customers to manage, not just through this winter but as those prices do feed through to bills later."

Explaining the cause of the problems, he said: "There is clearly much higher demand than was anticipated by the markets and then there's a series of factors internationally that are constraining supply.

"For example, it looks like there is little over and above long-term contracts coming from Russia and equally there are some issues with some of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals - all of which means supply is constrained and demand is higher than you'd expect.

"That's really what's driving the price rises that we can see.

"In terms of duration, it is very, very hard to tell and our view is we need to be open minded about how long it might last, and for a range of scenarios."

Asked whether tougher licensing conditions should have been imposed on newer companies, he insisted that it was "something we're going to look at" but stressed that "all companies are feeling huge amounts of strain" because of wholesale prices now being six times what they were last year.

Brearley added: "All consumers in this market are protected by the price cap and the price cap does provide a fair reflection of the costs that are in the market.

"When you look at the wholesale costs that are there now, the price cap is providing good value for customers and so we feel that, in these extraordinary times, we do have measures in place that protect customers' interests."