Category: Diversifying our energy mix
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The fundamental relationship between productivity and public policies has profound implications. Energy policies and environmental policies have been found increasingly linked together, decision making processes have been increasingly complex and vulnerable, and typically conflicting, lacking metrics and responsibilities to substantiate more robust decisions and therefore more easily understood and accepted.
Some metric to correlate the amount of useful energy produced and the amount of natural resources used from the biosphere and the atmosphere can help. That is a measure of efficiency in the utilization of the biosphere and atmosphere, and can be calculated with basis on the concept of productivity.
Environmental productivity of an energy source is defined as a ratio between useful energy provided by that source, and, the extent of biosphere and atmosphere used at that production of energy flow. That is an indicator of the environmental stress imposed on the biosphere and the atmosphere to address the need of energy by using that specific source.
An on-going research at University of Sao Paulo aims at using the concept of environmental productivity of energy sources which make up the Brazilian energy matrix, and in this way creating a metric to rank sources and support an energy policy to guide the energy production and consumption towards reducing environmental pressures on biosphere and atmosphere.
Preliminary results show significant increases of environmental productivity of energy production from sugar cane and hydroelectricity, and relatively stable productivity of energy production from oil.
Environmental productivity of energy sources in a global perspective can help a virtuous transition, from conventional to a more diversified energy mix, if policy makers can align energy policies based on thresholds of environmental productivity in a global perspective. Decision processes of new plants, as well as decommission plans of existing low environmental productivity ones, should be based on targets of minimum environmental productivity of energy sources, and can help transition towards a more diversified energy mix.