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Quantifying the relationship of resilience and eco-efficiency in complex adaptive energy systems

Author

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  • Korhonen, Jouni
  • Snäkin, Juha-Pekka

Abstract

The concepts of efficiency and resilience are important in complex adaptive systems. Efficiency and resilience have been compared in complex systems, but the data and materials have mainly been derived from natural ecosystems. The actual environmental impacts of this comparison with data and materials from human economic systems is an important research theme for ecological economics. Furthermore, efficiency defined as eco-efficiency is missing from resilience research. This paper studies resilience and eco-efficiency in societal energy systems. Eco-efficiency is defined as energy produced per CO2 emissions and incineration ash generated. For resilience, we use the diversity of fuel types in energy systems, in particular the evenness of fuels in each fuel type category. Empirical materials from the district heating energy system of Southern Lapland in Finland encompassing six municipalities are presented. What if-scenarios show that, in general, diversity and eco-efficiency seem to support each other, i.e., there is a correlation. This is different from food web studies in ecology where the material flows are primarily biomass. In human energy systems, lithosphere derived materials are used alongside biomass, in our case study fossil coal, oil as well as peat, which is a semi-fossil fuel. The difference might also be explained due to the role of technology in human economic systems. For policy and business strategy implications, it is important to study the case system with two interdependent system boundaries; the subsystem level of the capital city Rovaniemi and the larger six municipality regional system to which Rovaniemi belongs. Policy planning and business strategy development would gain if the actors involved would approach the system with enlarged spatial and temporal system boundaries. Long-term strategic thinking and inter-municipality cooperation may help the region to mitigate the risks related to the development of the district heating energy system.

Suggested Citation

  • Korhonen, Jouni & Snäkin, Juha-Pekka, 2015. "Quantifying the relationship of resilience and eco-efficiency in complex adaptive energy systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 83-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:120:y:2015:i:c:p:83-92
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.09.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:37-46 is not listed on IDEAS

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