Monday, April 02, 2012

2011: Most Energy-Efficient Economy in History

The Energy Information Administration reports that it took only 7.32 thousand BTUs of energy to produce each dollar of real GDP in 2011, making last year's economy the most energy-efficient in history (see chart).  Energy consumption per dollar of output in 2011 was 2% less than 2010 (7.47 thousands BTUs), and half of the energy required in 1973 (14.79 thousand BTUs). 

30 Comments:

At 4/02/2012 9:17 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Hurrah for technology!

 
At 4/02/2012 10:51 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

In the Information Revolution, inflation has been overstated and real GDP has been understated.

Also, increasingly larger U.S. trade deficits (reaching 6% of GDP in the mid-2000s) subtract from U.S. GDP.

So, the U.S. is even more energy efficient than the data show.

The U.S. not only leads the world in the Information and Biotech Revolutions (which produce lighter goods), it leads the rest of the world combined (in both revenue and profit).

 
At 4/02/2012 11:15 AM, Blogger marmico said...

2011 energy expenditures were probably the most costly energy expenditures per $ of GDP since 2008 and the oil supply shocks in the 1970s.

The expenditure on energy per unit is rising faster than unit improvements in efficiency. It's like the Red Queen in Through The Looking Glass.

 
At 4/02/2012 11:59 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

"It's like the Red Queen in Through The Looking Glass"

Lewis Carroll, mathematician, would have appreciated numbers showing falling fossil fuel prices.

From Table 927, p. 585 Cost per BTU in Constant (2005 dollars) in U.S.:

1980 was $4.28 per BTU vs. $3.62 in 2009. Technology is unlocking cheaper fossil fuel BTUs and increasing efficiencies in use.

Thanks Prof. for the very interesting graph.

 
At 4/02/2012 12:20 PM, Blogger James McMurtry said...

@Buddy R Pacifico

That chart is awesome - but natural gas is a lot cheaper now than it was in 2009. I believe we are now seeing all time lows in inflation adjusted natty gas prices.

 
At 4/02/2012 12:23 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

BTW, Mercedes just unveiled a luxury car--a luxury car!--that gets 52 mpg.

E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID Click to enlarge.
Mercedes-Benz isintroducing the new E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID; the luxury-class diesel hybrid offers fuel consumption of 4.2 L of diesel/100 km (56 mpg US), with CO2 emissions of 109 g/km. (Earlier post.) The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is based on the E 250 CDI, yet has a higher output and approximately 15% lower fuel consumption.
This diesel hybrid will be available in the European market as a Saloon and Estate from the third quarter 2012. Daimler will introduce the Mercedes-Benz E 400 HYBRID—equipped with a V6 gasoline engine—into in the US market, and later in other countries such as Japan and China. In 2009, Mercedes-Benz introduced the S 400 HYBRID.

And Ford has begun production of a 70+ mpg car...

Ford begins production of new Fiesta ECOnetic with 71 mpg US
26 March 2012

Fiesta ECOnetic Technology. Click to enlarge.
Ford of Europe has begun production of the new Fiesta ECOnetic Technology, which offers fuel economy of 3.3l/100 km (71.2 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 87 g/km, at Ford’s Cologne Assembly plant in Germany.


The private sector does more for less every year. The public sector, including the military, does less for more every year.

 
At 4/02/2012 12:36 PM, Blogger kmg said...

This metric, more than any other, shows why peak oil is a hoax.

That is why the former peak oil nuts are now the inflation nuts. They have to find a new doomsday cult to belong to.

 
At 4/02/2012 12:48 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"n the Information Revolution, inflation has been overstated and real GDP has been understated."

you repeatedly make this argument, but it is as meritless as it was the first time.

technology advances all the time. the "information revolution" was small potatoes compared to electrification or the railroads or the telegraph or the industrial revolution. it wasn't even truly a revolution, just5 a set of refinements.

you keep trying to count "new stuff" as growth, but it isn't. it only gets included in growth when it is used to do somehting. thus, any productivity enhancements are already in the numbers.

if i can sell books with less cost now, great, that is a productivity gain, but that's in the numbers. if it were not, IT WOULD NOT BE A PRODUCTIVITY GAIN. you are trying to double count and pretend that the last 12 years have not been a period of low, not high growth even before we account for the big methodology changes in the 90's. the 80's and 90's had much stronger grwoth than the 2000's.

we see it in pretty much every metric.

why the persistent need to try and pretend the 2000's were a great time economically? they weren't. they had low growth and much of that was debt funded.

you are just trying to play silly buggers with the numbers to pretend it was not so.

 
At 4/02/2012 12:52 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Benji,

Both those examples are European only, where the mileage ratings are different.

 
At 4/02/2012 1:11 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, actually, the U.S. Information Revolution was greater than the U.S. Industrial Revolution, because the U.S. not only created enormous real wealth in the domestic economy, it captured enormous real wealth in the global economy.

 
At 4/02/2012 1:22 PM, Blogger bart said...

PT said: In the Information Revolution, inflation has been overstated and real GDP has been understated.

In the Information Revolution, inflation has been way understated and real GDP has been hugely overstated.


Fixed that for you. The chart is just plain false and very misleading

 
At 4/02/2012 1:24 PM, Blogger bart said...

Energy costs per million BTUs and with no correction for inflation.

http://www.nowandfutures.com/images/energy_per_btu.png

 
At 4/02/2012 1:35 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Paul-

Good point. The Ford car gets only 50 mpg,

However Ford also sells a luxury car, the MKZ, that gets more than 40 mpg.

My main point is that you can live in the lap of luxury (these new cars are amazing) on leather seats with incredible sound systems, perfect temp control, and get 40 mpg.

The USA fleet average will start climbing and keep going up from here. In addition, we have CNG and LPG and PHEVs.

The private sector does more for less every year. The public sector, including the military, does less for more every year.

 
At 4/02/2012 1:56 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

I guess, people like Bart miss the good old days, like the 1970s, when Americans lived in smaller houses or apartments with asbestos, drove around in Ford Pintos, VW Bugs, or AMC Pacers, worked with typewriters, or performed boring and repetitive work in factories, in the heavily polluted cities, didn't have to worry about choices, because there was little to choose from, etc..

 
At 4/02/2012 2:08 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

"Morganovich, actually, the U.S. Information Revolution was greater than the U.S. Industrial Revolution, because the U.S. not only created enormous real wealth in the domestic economy, it captured enormous real wealth in the global economy."

april fools was yesterday.

the information revolution was not even a revolution, just a set of refinements. it upped production and productivity far less than a move to assembly lines or electrification and had less dramatic effects on information dispersion than the telegraph.

there is nothing magic about it.

further, you still have never provided a single reason that it would lead to under-counted productivity.

if IT increases productivity, and i believe it does, then that shows up in the numbers.

a pre computer office produces X and costs Y and post computer produces X+n and costs Y+(z<n).

that's how you measure a productivity tool. you see how much more production it created relative to inputs.

you are trying to take this process backwards and assume that these productivity tools have all this value that somehow does not result in production but ought to be counted.

talk about mistaking the map for the terrain.

 
At 4/02/2012 2:11 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

"I guess, people like Bart miss the good old days, like the 1970s, when Americans lived in smaller houses or apartments with asbestos, drove around in Ford Pintos, VW Bugs, or AMC Pacers, worked with typewriters, or performed boring and repetitive work in factories, in the heavily polluted cities, didn't have to worry about choices, because there was little to choose from, etc."

that is such a total non sequitor and preposterous straw man it's hard to know where to start. it has NOTHING to do with bart's comments.

 
At 4/02/2012 2:15 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

paul-

that's a very interesting link. i never realized the 2 had such different methodologies. that certainly makes the european claims on fantastic fuel economy look a lot less awe inspiring.

thanks for that.

 
At 4/02/2012 2:17 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

One thing that's amazing is during this time period, we had two (arguably three if you want to count the current jump) oil spikes, and the cost per real GDP has still fallen. Furthermore, looking at the graph in the press release, the petroleum & natural gas cost has been dropping while the "other energy" aspect has remained quite constant. In other words, this entire decline has been driven by oil and natural gas! Aside from the environmental concerns, why would we want to ween ourselves off an energy source that has been getting cheaper?

 
At 4/02/2012 2:18 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

that's a very interesting link.

I second that comment. It was an eye-opener, that's for sure.

 
At 4/02/2012 2:19 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich says: "you still have never provided a single reason that it would lead to under-counted productivity."

I've provided a reason before:

Robert Solow: "You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics."

The paradox has been defined as the discrepancy between measures of investment in information technology and measures of output at the national level.

"Investment has gone into our 'unmeasurable sectors,' and thus its productivity effects, which are likely to be quite real, are largely invisible in the data."

 
At 4/02/2012 2:46 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Peak,

I don't understand what is meant by immeasurable sectors. When I invest in technology for my businesses, it's extremely measurable...and, if/when the investment pays off, the productivity improvements are measurable as well...?

 
At 4/02/2012 2:50 PM, Blogger marmico said...

1980 was $4.28 per BTU vs. $3.62 in 2009. Technology is unlocking cheaper fossil fuel BTUs and increasing efficiencies in use

Did you forget 2005-2008? The average was $5.00 per million BTU. The average for 2010-2012 will be similar if gasoline prices remain at current levels for the balance of the year. Hence, the analogy.

 
At 4/02/2012 2:54 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Mike, I've stated before:

It's less productive to invent and build new technology, the way productivity is measured, than to operate and maintain it.

Nonetheless, the inventions and improvements of new products at a faster rate in the Information Revolution raised living standards at a faster rate.

 
At 4/02/2012 2:56 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

I've also stated before:

It was not only the invention of the product itself, in the Information Revolution, it was also the speed of improvements to the invention and the increase or decrease in price.

For example, how much better was a 2005 computer compared to a 1985 computer?

How much better was a 1975 typewriter compared to a 1955 typewriter?

And what were the price differences?

 
At 4/02/2012 2:57 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Can we just agree that technology has improved all our lives and not bicker about how a flawed system of measurement records it?

 
At 4/02/2012 3:02 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Oh, OK, Peak...I see what you're saying....I was only looking at one side of the issue.

 
At 4/02/2012 3:10 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Thomas Edison made a huge investment inventing the light bulb and said:

"I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb."

 
At 4/03/2012 9:25 AM, Blogger bart said...

peak-
"I guess, people like Bart miss the good old days, like the 1970s, when Americans lived in smaller houses or apartments with asbestos, drove around in Ford Pintos, VW Bugs, or AMC Pacers, worked with typewriters, or performed boring and repetitive work in factories, in the heavily polluted cities, didn't have to worry about choices, because there was little to choose from, etc."

morganovich-
that is such a total non sequitor and preposterous straw man it's hard to know where to start. it has NOTHING to do with bart's comments.



When PT and a few others have nothing (as incontrovertibly proven by their continual avoidance of things like SS recipients decline in purchasing power, GDP vs. CPI share of medical, the lack of *reverse* hedonics etc.), they respond with personal attacks and logical fallacies and the like, it's very strong evidence that they know they're beaten and wrong.


"Violence (in the form of personal attacks) is the last refuge of the incompetent."

 
At 4/03/2012 10:04 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

no peak, that was never an answer. it's just pie in the sky nonsense.

how much better is a computer?

well, it depends on what you can do with it.

a bad ass new video game is NOT a productivity tool.

if the computer makes a business run better, that is ALREADY IN THE NUMBERS. you are trying to double count it.

the measure of a productivity tool is how it improves production. you are trying to add in some fanciful notion that more MIPS has to be added as well.

if being connected to the internet ups productivity, again, it's already int he numbers.

you seem to completely misunderstand how a productivity tool works.

productivity enhancement is (and can only be) measured by the increase in production you get from using a tool. IT is exactly the same as a horse plow in this respect.

if a horse plow lets you till more acreage and grow more corn, then you call it a productivity enhancer. you would not seek to add in a second adjustment because it is "better than an old plow". computers are not different in any way. sure, they develop much faster, but that still only matters as a productivity tools once actual production takes place.

your whole method of thinking about this is completely backwards.

 
At 4/04/2012 1:47 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

LOL...It is easy to make a fake economy look energy efficient. If you waste billions on building planes that will not fly safely you still get to count the addition to GDP even if the process consumes little in the way of energy. And I would not expect a FIRE economy to show much in the way of energy use when compared to previous economies. And let us not forget that all of the energy used to produce those Apple products that are counted as adding to GDP are not used inside the US. Doesn't it make sense to account for all of the energy used regardless of where it was actually used?

 

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