Energy Conservation Policies in the Light of the Energetics of Evolution
With more energy efficiency it is possible to do the same—or even more—with less energy. This is why energy efficiency is prompted by many as an absolute remedy for the evils of energy use, such as the environmental pressure or the security of supply. Nevertheless, historically energy consumptions at the world level have always been growing in spite of—or perhaps because of—an increasing level of energy efficiency. Some scholars have called this paradox the rebound effect. The rebound effect (REE) is an unintended consequence of the introduction of more energy-efficient technology. It occurs when the reduction in energy consumption is less than that expected from the magnitude of the increase in energy efficiency. REE and backfire are caused by behavioural and/or other systemic responses to efficiency gains in production or consumption (Maxwell et al. in Addressing the rebound effect, a report for the European Commission DG Environment, 2011). However, this paradoxical nexus between energy efficiency and energy consumption is not only confined to human-made systems: nature exhibits a same type of linkage among energy efficiency, energy growth and complexity. To what extent can the energetics of evolution help us in understanding this conundrum and forge a doable energy policy aimed at reducing energy use by fostering energy efficiency? In this chapter we will analyse current areas of improvement in energy policy targeting energy efficiency in the light of the rebound effect and we will try to advance a different policy framework, based on a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.
KeywordsEnergy Efficiency Energy Policy Rebound Effect Energy Service Price Signal
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