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Physical Constraints on Global Social-Ecological Energy System

Department of Engineering, University of Napoli ‘Parthenope’, 80143 Napoli, Italy
Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, 30172 Venice, Italy
State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Department of Chemistry and Biology “Adolfo Zambelli”, University of Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II 132, 84084 Salerno, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Pedro L. Lomas
Energies 2021, 14(23), 8177;
Received: 6 November 2021 / Revised: 29 November 2021 / Accepted: 2 December 2021 / Published: 6 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Energy, Environment and Well-Being)
Energy is the main driver of human Social-Ecological System (SES) dynamics. Collective energy properties of human SES can be described applying the principles of statistical mechanics: (i) energy consumption repartition; (ii) efficiency; (iii) performance, as efficient power, in relation to the least-action principle. International Energy Agency data are analyzed through the lens of such principles. Declining physical efficiency and growth of power losses emerge from our analysis. Losses mainly depend on intermediate system outputs and non-energy final output. Energy performance at Country level also depends on efficient power consumption. Better and worse performing Countries are identified accordingly. Five policy-relevant areas are identified in relation to the physical principles introduced in this paper: Improve efficiency; Decouple economic growth from environmental degradation; Focus on high value added and labor-intensive sectors; Rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption; Upgrade the technological capabilities. Coherently with our findings, policies should support the following actions: (1) redefine sectoral energy distribution shares; (2) Improve Country-level performance, if needed; (3) Reduce intermediate outputs and non-energy final output; (4) Reduce resources supply to improve eco-efficiency together with system performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy statistics; social-ecological system; thermodynamics; efficient power; energy performance energy statistics; social-ecological system; thermodynamics; efficient power; energy performance
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MDPI and ACS Style

Casazza, M.; Gonella, F.; Liu, G.; Proto, A.; Passaro, R. Physical Constraints on Global Social-Ecological Energy System. Energies 2021, 14, 8177.

AMA Style

Casazza M, Gonella F, Liu G, Proto A, Passaro R. Physical Constraints on Global Social-Ecological Energy System. Energies. 2021; 14(23):8177.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Casazza, Marco, Francesco Gonella, Gengyuan Liu, Antonio Proto, and Renato Passaro. 2021. "Physical Constraints on Global Social-Ecological Energy System" Energies 14, no. 23: 8177.

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