This paper develops economic definitions of energy quality for individual fuels and energy aggregates. There are use- and exchange-value concepts, as well as marginal and total measures, of energy quality. A factor augmentation or quality coefficients approach corresponds to the use-value definition while indicators based on distance functions and relative prices are exchange-value based definitions. These indicators are identical when the elasticity of substitution between fuels is infinity but diverge or cannot be computed for other interfuel elasticities of substitution. When the elasticity of substitution is zero only the quality coefficients approach is defined. I also show that 1) the ratio of an energy volume index to aggregate joules cannot be considered a complete indicator of aggregate energy quality as it does not account for quality changes in the component fuels 2) demand curve integrals do not provide information on relative use-values or fuel qualities when the elasticity of substitution is unity or less.
|Publication status||Published - 2010|