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Open AccessArticle

Exergy Accounting: A Quantitative Comparison of Methods and Implications for Energy-Economy Analysis

Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand and Sussex Energy Group, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9SL, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: John Barrett
Energies 2016, 9(11), 947;
Received: 29 September 2016 / Revised: 4 November 2016 / Accepted: 10 November 2016 / Published: 14 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Economy)
Assessments of the feasibility of decoupling energy consumption from economic growth could benefit from an improved understanding of the size, nature and value of different energy flows. This understanding may be enhanced by focusing upon so-called “useful exergy”—a measure of both the quantity and “quality” of energy (defined here as its thermodynamic ability to perform physical work) at the “useful” stage of the energy conversion chain. Useful exergy flows within national economies are increasingly being quantified and their role in economic activity explored. However, this so-called “exergy economics” field currently lacks a consistent methodology. This paper contributes to the development of a more consistent approach. By constructing a “useful exergy account” for the United Kingdom covering the period 1960–2012, we explore how different methodological choices influence estimates of useful exergy for different categories of end-use as well as estimates of total national useful exergy consumption. Specifically, we evaluate the sensitivity of estimates to: (a) the method of estimating the exergy efficiency of different end-uses; (b) the boundaries between end-use categories; and (c) the method of estimating the primary exergy associated with renewable electricity. We also improve upon the current method of accounting for industrial uses of heat. This leads to suggestions for best practice when constructing useful exergy accounts, and the identification of areas where further methodological development is required. View Full-Text
Keywords: exergy; energy; economic growth; energy efficiency; decoupling exergy; energy; economic growth; energy efficiency; decoupling
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Miller, J.; Foxon, T.J.; Sorrell, S. Exergy Accounting: A Quantitative Comparison of Methods and Implications for Energy-Economy Analysis. Energies 2016, 9, 947.

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