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Author

Steve Sorrell

Bio: Steve Sorrell is an academic researcher from University of Sussex. The author has contributed to research in topic(s): Efficient energy use & Rebound effect (conservation). The author has an hindex of 28, co-authored 60 publication(s) receiving 5088 citation(s).


Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Beginning with William Stanley Jevons in 1865, a number of authors have claimed that economically justified energy-efficiency improvements will increase rather than reduce energy consumption. 'Jevons Paradox' is extremely difficult to test empirically, but could have profound implications for energy and climate policy. This paper summarises and critiques the arguments and evidence that have been cited in support of Jevons' Paradox, focusing in particular on the work of Len Brookes and Harry Saunders. It identifies some empirical and theoretical weaknesses in these arguments, highlights the questions they raise for economic orthodoxy and points to some interesting parallels between these arguments and those used by the 'biophysical' school of ecological economics. While the evidence in favour of 'Jevons Paradox' is far from conclusive, it does suggest that economy-wide rebound effects are larger than is conventionally assumed and that energy plays a more important role in driving productivity improvements and economic growth than is conventionally assumed. 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

774 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The rebound effect results in part from an increased consumption of energy services following an improvement in the technical efficiency of delivering those services. This increased consumption offsets the energy savings that may otherwise be achieved. If the rebound effect is sufficiently large it may undermine the rationale for policy measures to encourage energy efficiency. The nature and magnitude of the rebound effect is the focus of long-running dispute with energy economics. This paper brings together previous theoretical work to provide a rigorous definition of the rebound effect, to clarify key conceptual issues and to highlight the potential consequences of various assumptions for empirical estimates of the effect. The focus is on the direct rebound effect for a single energy service — indirect and economy-wide rebound effects are not discussed. Beginning with Khazzoom's original definition of the rebound effect, we expose the limitations of three simplifying assumptions on which this definition is based. First, we argue that capital costs form an important part of the total cost of providing energy services and that empirical studies that estimate rebound effects from variations in energy prices are prone to bias. Second, we argue that energy efficiency should be treated as an endogenous variable and that empirical estimates of the rebound effect may need to apply a simultaneous equation model to capture the joint determination of key variables. Third, we explore the implications of the opportunity costs of time in the production of energy services and highlight the consequences for energy use of improved ‘time efficiency’, the influence of time costs on the rebound effect and the existence of a parallel rebound effect with respect to time. Each of these considerations serves to highlight the difficulties in obtaining reliable estimates of the rebound effect and the different factors that need to be controlled for. We discuss the implications of these findings for econometric studies and argue that several existing studies may overestimate the magnitude of the effect.

671 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Most commentators expect improved energy efficiency and reduced energy demand to provide the dominant contribution to tackling global climate change. But at the global level, the correlation between increased wealth and increased energy consumption is very strong and the impact of policies to reduce energy demand is both limited and contested. Different academic disciplines approach energy demand reduction in different ways: emphasising some mechanisms and neglecting others, being more or less optimistic about the potential for reducing energy demand and providing insights that are more or less useful for policymakers. This article provides an overview of the main issues and challenges associated with energy demand reduction, summarises how this challenge is ‘framed’ by key academic disciplines, indicates how these can provide complementary insights for policymakers and argues that a ‘sociotechnical’ perspective can provide a deeper understanding of the nature of this challenge and the processes through which it can be achieved. The article integrates ideas from the natural sciences, economics, psychology, innovation studies and sociology but does not give equal weight to each. It argues that reducing energy demand will prove more difficult than is commonly assumed and current approaches will be insufficient to deliver the transformation required.

445 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Within the polarised and contentious debate over future oil supply a growing number of commentators are forecasting a near term peak and subsequent decline in production. But although liquid fuels form the foundation of modern industrial economies, the growing debate on `peak oil has relatively little influence on energy and climate policy. With this in mind, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has conducted an independent, thorough and systematic review of the evidence, with the aim of establishing the current state of knowledge, identifying key uncertainties and improving consensus. The study focuses upon the physical depletion of conventional oil in the period to 2030 and includes an in-depth literature review, analysis of industry databases and a detailed comparison of global supply forecasts. This Communication summarises the main findings of the UKERC study. A key conclusion is that a peak of conventional oil production before 2030 appears likely and there is a significant risk of a peak before 2020.

314 citations

26 Oct 2010
Abstract: Households are expected to play a pivotal role in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, and the Government is targeting specific household actions as part of its plan to meet the legally binding targets set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. However, by focusing on discrete actions, the Government fails to take account the Rebound Effect – a phenomenon whereby carbon reductions estimated by simple engineering calculations are frequently not realised in practice. For example, installation of loft insulation will most certainly increase the thermal efficiency of homes. But this will free up money that otherwise would be spent by householders on energy bills: this money may then be spent on heating houses to higher temperatures, buying extra furniture, or, say, flying on vacations. Alternatively it may be put into household savings. All of these options give rise to carbon emissions, thus the total carbon saved may be less than predicted. Indeed, in some instances, emissions may even increase – this being known as ‘Backfire’. In this paper we estimate the extent of the Rebound Effect under a range of assumptions concerning consumer purchasing decisions, with varying prices, incomes, and savings levels. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of our findings and provides guidance on the conditions under which Rebound and Backfire can be minimised.

309 citations


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Abstract: In this book, Andrew Harvey sets out to provide a unified and comprehensive theory of structural time series models. Unlike the traditional ARIMA models, structural time series models consist explicitly of unobserved components, such as trends and seasonals, which have a direct interpretation. As a result the model selection methodology associated with structural models is much closer to econometric methodology. The link with econometrics is made even closer by the natural way in which the models can be extended to include explanatory variables and to cope with multivariate time series. From the technical point of view, state space models and the Kalman filter play a key role in the statistical treatment of structural time series models. The book includes a detailed treatment of the Kalman filter. This technique was originally developed in control engineering, but is becoming increasingly important in fields such as economics and operations research. This book is concerned primarily with modelling economic and social time series, and with addressing the special problems which the treatment of such series poses. The properties of the models and the methodological techniques used to select them are illustrated with various applications. These range from the modellling of trends and cycles in US macroeconomic time series to to an evaluation of the effects of seat belt legislation in the UK.

4,252 citations

Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 1982
Abstract: This chapter discusses leading problems linked to energy that the world is now confronting and to propose some ideas concerning possible solutions. Oil deserves special attention among all energy sources. Since the beginning of 1981, it has merely been continuing and enhancing the downward movement in consumption and prices caused by excessive rises, especially for light crudes such as those from Africa, and the slowing down of worldwide economic growth. Densely-populated oil-producing countries need to produce to live, to pay for their food and their equipment. If the economic growth of the industrialized countries were to be 4%, even if investment in the rational use of energy were pushed to the limit and the development of nonpetroleum energy sources were also pursued actively, it would be extremely difficult to prevent a sharp rise in prices. It is evident that it is absolutely necessary to pursue actively the development of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power if a physical shortage of energy is not to block economic growth.

2,046 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Eco-innovations, eco-efficiency and corporate social responsibility practices define much of the current industrial sustainability agenda. While important, they are insufficient in themselves to deliver the holistic changes necessary to achieve long-term social and environmental sustainability. How can we encourage corporate innovation that significantly changes the way companies operate to ensure greater sustainability? Sustainable business models (SBM) incorporate a triple bottom line approach and consider a wide range of stakeholder interests, including environment and society. They are important in driving and implementing corporate innovation for sustainability, can help embed sustainability into business purpose and processes, and serve as a key driver of competitive advantage. Many innovative approaches may contribute to delivering sustainability through business models, but have not been collated under a unifying theme of business model innovation. The literature and business practice review has identified a wide range of examples of mechanisms and solutions that can contribute to business model innovation for sustainability. The examples were collated and analysed to identify defining patterns and attributes that might facilitate categorisation. Sustainable business model archetypes are introduced to describe groupings of mechanisms and solutions that may contribute to building up the business model for sustainability. The aim of these archetypes is to develop a common language that can be used to accelerate the development of sustainable business models in research and practice. The archetypes are: Maximise material and energy efficiency; Create value from ‘waste’; Substitute with renewables and natural processes; Deliver functionality rather than ownership; Adopt a stewardship role; Encourage sufficiency; Re-purpose the business for society/environment; and Develop scale-up solutions.

1,753 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: As the oil reserves are depleting the need of an alternative fuel source is becoming increasingly apparent. One prospective method for producing fuels in the future is conversion of biomass into bio-oil and then upgrading the bio-oil over a catalyst, this method is the focus of this review article. Bio-oil production can be facilitated through flash pyrolysis, which has been identified as one of the most feasible routes. The bio-oil has a high oxygen content and therefore low stability over time and a low heating value. Upgrading is desirable to remove the oxygen and in this way make it resemble crude oil. Two general routes for bio-oil upgrading have been considered: hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) and zeolite cracking. HDO is a high pressure operation where hydrogen is used to exclude oxygen from the bio-oil, giving a high grade oil product equivalent to crude oil. Catalysts for the reaction are traditional hydrodesulphurization (HDS) catalysts, such as Co–MoS2/Al2O3, or metal catalysts, as for example Pd/C. However, catalyst lifetimes of much more than 200 h have not been achieved with any current catalyst due to carbon deposition. Zeolite cracking is an alternative path, where zeolites, e.g. HZSM-5, are used as catalysts for the deoxygenation reaction. In these systems hydrogen is not a requirement, so operation is performed at atmospheric pressure. However, extensive carbon deposition results in very short catalyst lifetimes. Furthermore a general restriction in the hydrogen content of the bio-oil results in a low H/C ratio of the oil product as no additional hydrogen is supplied. Overall, oil from zeolite cracking is of a low grade, with heating values approximately 25% lower than that of crude oil. Of the two mentioned routes, HDO appears to have the best potential, as zeolite cracking cannot produce fuels of acceptable grade for the current infrastructure. HDO is evaluated as being a path to fuels in a grade and at a price equivalent to present fossil fuels, but several tasks still have to be addressed within this process. Catalyst development, understanding of the carbon forming mechanisms, understanding of the kinetics, elucidation of sulphur as a source of deactivation, evaluation of the requirement for high pressure, and sustainable sources for hydrogen are all areas which have to be elucidated before commercialisation of the process.

1,330 citations