Embodied energy

There’s a thesis that would lead to a conclusion that it’s better to continuing driving an older car, rather than buying a newer “more fuel-efficient” car. Thus giving up a Prius for a Tesla might not prove to be a virtue.

The thesis that available energy both limits and governs the structure of human economies is not new. In 1886, Boltzmann suggested that life is primarily a struggle for available energy. Soddy stated in 1933: “If we have available energy, we may maintain life and produce every material requisite necessary. That is why the flow of energy should be the primary concern of economics” …

For example, the energy embodied in an automobile includes the energy consumed directly in the manufacturing plant plus all the energy consumed indirectly to produce the other inputs to auto manufacturing, such as glass, steel, labor, and capital. A problem immediately apparent from this definition is the choice of procedures for calculating indirect energy requirements.

Costanza, Robert. “Embodied energy and economic valuation.” Science 210, no. 4475 (1980): 1219-1224. [search on Google Scholar]