The hidden world trade in energy
Author(s)Strout, Alan Mayne
The energy embodied in internationally traded commodities is estimated for the year 1967 by employing United States input-output energy coefficients expressed in physical units. In this year and under the assumption of USA technology and industrial structure, this "hidden" world trade in energy probably exceeded 40 per cent of the directly observed world trade in energy. As a ratio to aggregate energy consumption, the importance of embodied energy flows is smaller, but net embodied energy imports are positively correlated with per capita GDP, and their inclusion in aggregate energy consumption would increase measured income (per capita GDP) elasticities. A country's imports of embodied energy are approximately proportional to the imports of all commodities. Exports of embodied energy, on the other hand, especially those associated with more energy-intensive materials (which are largely products of what is commonly called heavy industry and which account for most of the country net imports of embodied energy) have a much higher elasticity than do imports with respect to per capita GDP. These energy-intensive exports are also significantly affected by a country's relative production of primary energy, total agricultural crops, and other natural resources.
MIT Energy Lab