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Energy Efficiency And Economic Growth

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  • RICHARD B. HOWARTH

Abstract

Recent contributions by Brookes (1990), Saunders (1992), and Inhaber and Saunders (1994) argue that cost-effective improvements in energy efficiency may, in the long run, lead energy use to grow more rapidly than it would in a world of fixed technologies. Since efficiency improvements may be viewed as a form of technological change that both reduces the effective cost of energy services and stimulates economic activity, energy demand may, under some circumstances, rise even as energy productivity improves. This paper examines this hypothesis using a simple model that distinguishes the roles of energy and energy services in production activities. In this model, improved energy efficiency can-not give rise to increased energy use unless: (i) energy costs dominate the total cost of energy services and (ii) expenditures on energy services constitute a large share of economic activity. Since neither of these assumptions is empirically plausible, the paper concludes that energy efficiency improvements will yield long-run reductions in energy use under the assumptions of the model. Copyright 1997 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Howarth, 1997. "Energy Efficiency And Economic Growth," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(4), pages 1-9, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:15:y:1997:i:4:p:1-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brookes, Len, 1990. "The greenhouse effect: the fallacies in the energy efficiency solution," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 199-201, March.
    2. Sanstad, Alan H. & Howarth, Richard B., 1994. "`Normal' markets, market imperfections and energy efficiency," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 811-818, October.
    3. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
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    5. Grubb, M. J., 1990. "Communication Energy efficiency and economic fallacies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(8), pages 783-785, October.
    6. Richard B. Howarth & Lee Schipper & Bo Andersson, 1993. "The Structure and Intensity of Energy Use: Trends in Five OECD Nations," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 27-46.
    7. Brookes, L. G., 1992. "Energy efficiency and economic fallacies: a reply," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 390-392, May.
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    9. Ronald J. Sutherland, 1991. "Market Barriers to Energy-Efficiency Investments," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 15-34.
    10. STEPHEN J. DeCANIO, 1997. "Economic Modeling And The False Tradeoff Between Environmental Protection And Economic Growth," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(4), pages 10-27, October.
    11. Solow, John L, 1987. "The Capital-Energy Complementarity Debate Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 605-614, September.
    12. Brookes, L. G., 1993. "Energy efficiency fallacies: the debate concluded," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 346-347, April.
    13. Alan Manne & Richard Richels, 1992. "Buying Greenhouse Insurance: The Economic Costs of CO2 Emission Limits," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026213280x, January.
    14. Howarth, Richard B. & Andersson, Bo, 1993. "Market barriers to energy efficiency," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 262-272, October.
    15. Scott, Alex, 1980. "The economics of house heating," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 130-141, July.
    16. Harty D. Saunders, 1992. "The Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate and Neoclassical Growth," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 131-148.
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