About this Research Topic
When a new, more efficient technology leads to a less-than-expected savings or even a greater energy consumption, this is referred to as the Rebound Effect in energy economics.
Stanley Jevons, as early as in 1865, maintained that efficiency renders energy more affordable, hence: it is a wholly confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. After him, still many refer to the Rebound Effect as the Jevons’ Paradox and the notion that efficiency prompts greater energy consumption is indeed paradoxical. However, this paradox still remains unexplained, as most of scientific endeavor has been place in measuring rather than understanding it. The famous epistemologist Gregory Bateson, once warned that the major mistake of science is that of confusing the Pleroma - the indistinct, but measurable, with the Creatura, the domain governed by distinctions and differences. His lesson was that there is no information without energy, but if we use only energy to understand information, we lose the very essence of it, which is the creation of difference.
Recently some prominent scholars have advocated the need of exploring new horizons to study the rebound effect. Some, for example, envisaged the existence of a frontier rebound to be explored; others, that of a structural rebound. The frontier rebound hints at the expanding frontier of new products and processes -such, for example, the incumbent advent of self-driving cars and robotization, that the increasing higher efficiency in transforming energy renders accessible to the public, whereas in the structural rebound, the system boundaries do not change but are the connections and their topology that are modified by the efficiency. Although the concepts of structural and frontier rebound might seem far apart, for in one case the change occurs at the border of the system and in the other within the system, they reconnect in the concept of complexity change, that incorporates both the introduction of a new, more complex device and a more complex structure of relationships. On the one hand, there is the energy and the matter, or the Pleroma, that feed the system; on the other there is the complexity of the economic system and the society, the Creatura.
This Research Topic welcomes scholars from different disciplines - social scientists, engineers, economists, energy scientists and so forth, to provide their unconventional contribution in the field of the study of the rebound effect, either:
1) by an interdisciplinary approach, with a new modelling framework/approach/metrics;
2) by investigating an aspect/type of rebound new or under-reported in the literature (such as: structural rebound, frontier rebound, power rebound, substitution rebound etc.),
3) by addressing the rebound in relation to the policy measures to be taken, the state-of-the art in the public and specialized discourse of the concern,
4) by tackling the important issue of how to increase the awareness of this phenomenon among scientist, practitioners and citizens.
Image "Aqua n.3", 2007 © Giacomo Costa, courtesy Guidi & Schoen Arte Contemporanea, Genova
Keywords: Rebound Effect, Jevon's Paradox, Complexity, Interdisciplinary Research, Energy Modelling