Efforts to achieve an energy transition often neglect to account for the levelling of benefits realizable with higher levels of energy use, despite knowledge of a saturation effect and recognition of increasing harms of use. This research examines energy sufficiency as a maximum quantity of energy associated with improvements in human well-being to inform a recalibration of energy targets among high-energy societies. A systematic review of recent research was performed to identify the point at which increasing levels of energy use no longer correlate with meaningful increases in well-being. For selected studies (n
= 18), energy sufficiency values range from 60–221 gigajoules per capita per year with a mean of 132 gigajoules per capita per year for associated measures of well-being. The review finds agreement in a pattern of saturation and provides a range of values for energy sufficiency maximums, suggesting that a relatively modest amount and a diverse quality of energy is needed to support high levels of human well-being. Beyond the conventional emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy, energy sufficiency therefore offers a necessary and complementary approach for supporting just and ecological energy transitions.
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