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Long Term Trends in Resource Exergy Consumption and Useful Work Supplies in the UK, 1900-2000

  • Benjamin Warr
  • Heinz Schandl
  • Robert U Ayres


    (CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Australia)

Our aim is to explain historical economic growth in the UK economy by introducing an empirical measure for useful work derived from natural resource energy inputs into an augmented production function. To do this, we estimate the long-term (1900-2000) trends in resource exergy supply and conversion to useful work in the United Kingdom. The exergy resources considered included domestic consumption of coal, crude oil and petroleum products, natural gas, nuclear and renewable resources (including biomass). All flows of exergy were allocated to an end use such as providing heat, light, transport, human and animal work and electrical power. For each end-use we estimated a time dependent efficiency of conversion from exergy to useful work. The 3-factor production function (of capital, labour and useful work) is able to reproduce the historic trajectory of economic growth without recourse to any exogenous assumptions of technological progress or total factor productivity. The results indicate that useful work derived from natural resource exergy is an important factor of production.

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Paper provided by CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems in its series Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series with number 2007-08.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cse:wpaper:2007-08
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