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The Economics of Energy and the Production Process

An Evolutionary Approach Guido Buenstorf, University of Kassel, Germany
The economics of energy has been a contested issue over the past century. Although it has not figured prominently in mainstream economics, numerous alternative proposals have called for energy to play a more central role in economic theory. In this highly original and enlightening volume, Guido Buenstorf develops a new conceptual approach to the economics of energy which originates from recent advances in evolutionary economics.
Extent: 224 pp
Hardback Price: £79.00 Web: £71.10
Publication Date: 2004
ISBN: 978 1 84376 461 8
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Energy Economics
  • Evolutionary Economics
  • Environment
  • Ecological Economics
The economics of energy has been a contested issue over the past century. Although it has not figured prominently in mainstream economics, numerous alternative proposals have called for energy to play a more central role in economic theory. In this highly original and enlightening volume, Guido Buenstorf develops a new conceptual approach to the economics of energy which originates from recent advances in evolutionary economics.

The book proposes a non-reductionist, evolutionary approach to the economics of energy and sets out by asking how energy use in production contributes to the use value of goods. Based on a sequential production framework, the author re-interprets the notion of factors of production, identifies long-term patterns of change in energy use, and highlights the role of technical interdependence in adopting new energy technologies. This approach is then applied to three historical cases of energy innovation: the transition from wood to coal, the introduction of the steam engine, and the electrification of industrial production.

Academics and researchers in the fields of evolutionary economics, ecological economics and innovation will welcome this fresh and illuminating interpretation of the economics of energy and its role in the process of production.
‘To a non-economist interested in energy this book promised and delivered a lot. . . I recommend the book highly to university teachers and policymakers as a thought-provoking explanation of why energy deserves to be back on the agenda.’
– Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Energy and Environment

‘This book makes a fundamental contribution to economics, in that it deals with production theory from a perspective that integrates economics with engineering and science. It represents a far more realistic interpretation than the standard neoclassical approach and will act as a stimulus for further research in this area.’
– Robert U. Ayres, INSEAD, France

‘Guido Buenstorf’s book is a splendid attempt to break new ground in the theory of production. Turning away from the ever more abstract – and theoretically empty – production function approach, he shows how changing physical constraints in the utilisation of energy systematically affect production processes in the economy. With his analysis the author challenges the value based approach to production. He outlines the contours of a richer theory, which is capable of accounting for physical and technological aspects without losing sight of their economic implications.’
– Ulrich Witt, Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems, Germany

‘No production is possible without energy. Neoclassical production theory with its price-theoretic focus has neglected this fundamental fact. To understand the economic process it is necessary to consider its real side. By analysing it from a conceptual, evolutionary and historical point of view, Guido Buenstorf gives energy the attention it deserves in economic analysis.’
– Malte Faber, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Contents: Preface 1. Introduction: Energy is Back on the Agenda 2. The Physical Perspective on the Economy and its Limitations 3. Production as a Sequential Process 4. More than Heat and Light: The Services Provided by Energy Use in Production 5. Changing Power Relations: The Long-Term Development of Energy Use in Production 6. Process Innovations in Sequential Production 7. A Closer Look at Change: Three Historical Examples of Energy Innovations 8. Conclusions References Index