Great Britain’s energy policy is “dissolving into a muddled, mire of siloed, non-joined-up policy statements and calls for evidence”, according to a group of academics.

Researchers from the University of Exeter said the country needed to decide on the necessary arrangements to deliver its greenhouse gas-reduction targets – along with a cost-effective, smart, flexible, secure energy system – before it makes “even more costly and time-consuming mistakes”.

The academics said that there needed to be a clearer government-agreed institutional framework and timeline for taking Great Britain’s energy policy forward.

But they said the institutional governance reform should not include a “big review” of the country’s energy policy, which they thought would “halt or hinder” progress towards a sustainable energy system.

Diesel farms and embedded benefits

Catherine Mitchell, one of the authors of the work, said: “It seems to us that, over the past year or two, Great Britain’s momentum towards a cost-effective sustainable energy system that will meet the Committee on Climate Change’s carbon budgets is moving backwards, not forwards.

“This ‘one step forward, two steps back’ has tended to happen as a bi-product of another decision, which then led to unintended consequences, which then drove another decision to ‘right’ the unintended consequence, which then impacted negatively on the struggling, ‘new’ sustainable energy system stakeholders.”

She pointed to the creation of the capacity market, which unintentionally supported diesel farms, which in turn led to the cutting of embedded benefits.

The findings were published by IGov, a four-year project to understand the relationship between government and innovation in the energy system, which is hosted by the University of Exeter and funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council.

> Read the research