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International Handbook on the Economics of Energy

Edited by Joanne Evans and Lester C. Hunt

As an essential component for economic growth, energy has a significant impact on the global economy. The need to meet growing energy demand has prompted cutting-edge innovation in clean technology in an attempt to realise environmental and cost objectives, whilst ensuring the security of energy supply. This Handbook offers a comprehensive review of the economics of energy, including contributions from a distinguished array of international specialists. It provides a thorough discussion of the major research issues in this topical field of economics.
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Chapter 1: A Brief History of Energy

Roger Fouquet


Roger Fouquet1 1 The Importance of History Energy has been fundamental to human survival and growth. At a basic level, the concentration of energy is the basis of life itself. For millions of years, animals have dedicated much of their lives to collecting sufficient energy in the form of food to survive. Success in this endeavour has enabled the human population to grow spectacularly over the last ten thousand years. The concentration of other (non-agricultural) forms of energy has allowed humankind to create increasingly elaborate surroundings and complex societies. More energy, more efficiently consumed provided greater amounts of heat, power, transport and light (Fouquet 2008). Most would agree that, overall, this has improved the population’s quality of life. Human economies – the production, exchange and consumption of goods and services – are driven by refinements in ways of capturing and harnessing energetic resources. The growth of economies has been closely linked with the availability, extraction, distribution and use of energy. Indeed, there is a close relationship between energy consumption and economic development (see, for instance, Judson et al. 1999). Thus, to study this relationship is to partially investigate the processes of economic growth and development, to identify the likely changes in energy requirements and to consider the possible environmental implications of energy usage. Due to a lack of statistical information, many economists trying to study this relationship have focused at a point-in-time picture of energy and GDP, using cross-sectional data. However, there have been many attempts to identify the crucial steps in...

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