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Energy Intensity of the Spanish Economy: A Useful Work Study

  • Aramendia, Emmanuel
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
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In this article, the Spanish exergy analysis is carried out for the period 1960-2013. The methodology applied is extensively discussed, and two methodological improvements are presented. Firstly, a wider range of temperatures are taken into consideration when computing the useful work time series, so that the underlying physical processes are better represented. Secondly, the non-specified economic sub-sectors from the IEA data are disaggregated in defined economic subsectors. A few findings are subsequently presented from the exergy analysis carried out. Firstly, the Spanish energy consumption (at each of the three primary; final and useful stages) has increased from 1960 until the economic downturn starting in 2008, when it starts plummeting alongside GDP. This indicates a tight correlation between energy and the economy. Secondly, it is showcased how the growth in useful work availability has been supplied, at least partly, by efficiency gains during the studied period. Thirdly, these efficiency gains are slowing down, which is likely to be due to efficiency dilution , and may represent a hurdle to future economic growth. Fourthly, the correlation between the slow down in energy consumption and the 2008 economic recession is discussed. As useful work is slowing down before the beginning of the crisis, the analysis seems to point to energy constraints predating the economic recession. Lastly, primary energy, final energy and useful work intensities of the Spanish economy are discussed. It is underlined how intensity metrics based on the primary and final stages of the energy conversion chain can be overly optimistic about the decrease of the energy intensity of an economy. Conversely, intensity metrics based on the useful stage, such as useful work, tend to indicate that the connection between energy and the economy remains tight, and that the dependency of the economy on energy services is still high.

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