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Title: The role of the power/efficiency misconception in the rebound effect’s size debate: Does efficiency actually lead to a power enhancement?
Authors: Ruzzenenti, Franco
Basosi, Riccardo 
Keywords: Rebound effect; Finite-time thermodynamics; Energy efficiency-power trade off
Issue Date: 2008
Project: None 
This paper addresses the question of whether the rebound effect’s size is bigger or smaller than one.After a brief review of the related economic literature, a thermodynamic perspective tackles this topicby demonstrating that the dispute over the size of the rebound effect relies on a misconception of thethermodynamic nature of energy efficiency. The dichotomy, in fact, concerns the relationship betweenefficiency and power output rather than the scale of the economic side effects generated by energyefficiency mutations. Early intuitions of the dichotomy efficiency/power belong to the pioneering worksof Stanley Jevons, in the field of economics, and Alfred Lotka in that of biology. Their findings are hereapproached using the basis of finite-time thermodynamics with a simple amendment, the addition ofthe time variable to the Carnot machinery. The model shows how a process of power maximizationalways leads to a sub-optimal efficiency level and additionally, that any efficiency improvement, in thecontext of low energy costs, will shift the power output of the machine instead of reducing energyconsumption. A case study taken from the transport system is presented to elucidate this argument.
ISSN: 0301-4215
DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2008.06.014
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