Energy consumption transition : final household energy consumption in the case of Sweden 1920-2010

Abstract: This licentiate thesis examines households’ final energy consumption over the long run by measuring their final energy use and examining how structural, institutional and economic factors affected the demand for energy in the residential sector during the period 1920-2010, a period covering the transition from traditional to fossil to renewable energy carriers. I believe that wider understanding of the historical energy transition and energy consumption within the residential sector might help us gain important insights into the long-run development and the factors affecting energy consumption among the households. By providing a new historical record and analysis of final energy consumption, this licentiate thesis extends the mainly supply-driven and aggregated literature on energy in the field of economic history.The empirical account of energy use shows that the households’ final energy use in the residential sector has undergone two large energy transitions during the twentieth century. The first occurred during the period 1930-1950, when households shifted from firewood and coal as their main energy carrier towards oil and electricity. The electric grid, in conjunction with new electrical appliances, changed patterns of consumption, standards of living and domestic work. It also provided a foundation for the later shift from oil to electricity in heating in the 1970s. The transition occurred simultaneously with large investments in residential buildings and with a growing variety of electrical appliances. The energy consumption in the increased rapidly during the period 1950-1973, until the OPEC 1 crisis initiated decreased consumption and the second energy transition.The second transition was characterized by the shift from oil to electricity and district heating. The process was driven by high oil prices and relatively low electricity/district heating prices due to the expansion of nuclear power and new usages of biofuel and wind power. With a higher reliance on electricity, the households received an energy source of higher quality. Since 1979 the residential sector’s energy consumption has declined, and the sector has seen a substantial decline in carbon dioxide emissions. The reduction of energy consumption and the transition to non-fossil fuels contributed to substantial reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. For energy at large, household tended to reduce consumption when real energy prices increases more than real income. For the energy mix, household has tended to shift when relative price changes has affected the utility of consuming different energy carriers. Households shifted from oil when the price on energy services derived from electricity and district heating became relatively lower than oil

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