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Global energy modelling — A biophysical approach (GEMBA) part 1: An overview of biophysical economics


  • Dale, M.
  • Krumdieck, S.
  • Bodger, P.


Economists, investors and policy makers need to understand energy systems and the potential for investment in both alternative energy supply and demand side technologies. Biophysical economics has contributed to conventional economics by incorporating thermodynamic and ecological principles and emphasising the importance of natural resources to economic processes. This paper is presented in two parts. Part 1 gives a historic review of biophysical economics and discusses some previous models of the energy-economy system built around the principles of biophysical economics. Part 2 presents the GEMBA model — a new modelling methodology in the biophysical economics tradition. The methodology proposes a new and important contribution to the field of biophysical economics; a lifetime evolving function for the dynamics of the energy return on investment (EROI). The dynamic EROI function was incorporated into the GEMBA model and implemented in Vensim. The model is calibrated using historical energy production data, i.e. trained to historical data. The trained model is run to 2100 under a variety of assumptions regarding availability of energy resources and corresponding EROI's. The main finding of the model is that growth of the renewable energy sector may impact investment in other areas of the economy and thereby stymie economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Dale, M. & Krumdieck, S. & Bodger, P., 2012. "Global energy modelling — A biophysical approach (GEMBA) part 1: An overview of biophysical economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 152-157.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:73:y:2012:i:c:p:152-157
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.10.014

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-François Fagnart & Marc Germain, 2015. "Can the Energy Transition Be Smooth?," Working Papers 2015.04, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    2. Victor Court & Pierre-André Jouvet & Frédéric Lantz, 2015. "Endogenous economic growth, EROI, and transition towards renewable energy," Working Papers 1507, Chaire Economie du climat.
    3. Hansen, J.P. & Narbel, P.A. & Aksnes, D.L., 2017. "Limits to growth in the renewable energy sector," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 769-774.
    4. Court, Victor & Fizaine, Florian, 2017. "Long-Term Estimates of the Energy-Return-on-Investment (EROI) of Coal, Oil, and Gas Global Productions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 145-159.
    5. repec:eee:energy:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:232-242 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:spr:bioerq:v:3:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s41247-018-0035-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:energy:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:1504-1516 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:appene:v:209:y:2018:i:c:p:322-338 is not listed on IDEAS


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