Energy discounting

Bruce Hannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The procedure described allows comparison of various energy transformation processes, including those using fossil fuels, solar energy, and conservation. The procedure allows a determination of the relative feasibility and desirability of each process for producing a surplus of energy beyond the output that could be obtained directly from the process energy (i.e., the energy needed for self-reproduction). The analysis includes all energy directly or indirectly committed to the process, throughout the entire economy. To quantify the feasibility of energy transformation, an input-output ratio was calculated for 44 processes. The calculations exclude fuels transformed directly into energy output. Adjustments were made for differences in quality, end use, and time of use. A low ratio means that the process should receive further research and development funding or else should be dropped from consideration. The input-output ratio of a feasible transformation process may decline with time because of a resource scarcity, indicating a falling desirability. Highly desirable processes, ones with ratios that show the least signs of declining, should also be compared for future use on the basis of their relative effects on labor needs, capital requirements, the demand for critical material, and their environmental impact. Policy conclusions are hampered by an unevenness in the quality of the available data. Nevertheless, a useful and comprehensive method of energy analysis is demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-300
Number of pages20
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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