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Analysis of energy embodied in the international trade of UK

Tang, Xu, Snowden, Simon, Höök, Mikael
Energy Policy 2013 v.57 pp. 418-428
economic structure, embodied energy, exports, fossil fuels, imports, international trade, models, China, United Kingdom
Interest in the role embodied energy plays in international trade and its subsequent impact on energy security has grown. As a developed nation, the UK's economic structure has changed from that of a primary producer to that of a primary consumer. Although the UK's energy consumption appears to have peaked, it imports a lot of energy embodied in international trade alongside the more obvious direct energy imports. The UK has seen increasing dependency on imported fossil energy since the UK became a net energy importer in 2005. In this paper an energy input–output model is established to calculate not only the amount of fossil energy embodied in UK's imports and exports, but also the sector and country distributions of those embodied fossil energy. The research results suggest the following: UK's embodied fossil energy imports have exceeded embodied fossil energy exports every year since 1997, UK embodied energy imports through the so-called ‘Made in China’ phenomena are the largest accounting for 43% of total net fossil energy imports. If net embodied fossil energy imports are considered, the gap between energy consumption and production in UK is much larger than commonly perceived, with subsequent implications to the UK's energy security.