An improved approach to estimate direct rebound effect by incorporating energy efficiency: A revisit of China's industrial energy demand


The rebound effect, or the response to energy efficiency improvement, has drawn considerable attention from economists and policymakers. However, the magnitude remains quite controversial because of the differences in the definitions and methods being used. Originating from the definition of direct rebound effect, we develop an improved approach incorporating energy efficiency. The main advantages of the proposed approach are twofold. First, it enables us to estimate the demand elasticity of useful energy service with respect to energy service price. The estimates are more consistent with the definition of rebound effect and are more effective. Second, it decomposes direct rebound effect into substitution and output channels, enabling us to further understand the microeconomic mechanisms. Applying this method, we assess the direct energy rebound effect in China’s industrial sectors. We find that the direct rebound effect for the industry is 37.0%, and the substitution and output channels contribute to 13.1% and 23.9%, respectively. Substantial variations in the magnitudes and mechanisms occur by sector. For heavy industry, most energy rebound is induced by output expansion because of its sizeable cost decrease from efficiency improvements. Unlike heavy industry, most energy rebound in light industry comes from substituting energy service for other inputs because firms in light industry are more flexible in adjusting production inputs. Our results provide evidences for the importance of energy efficiency measures, and highlight the necessity of differentiated measures according to the sectoral characteristics.
Last updated on 04/09/2019