Date of Graduation

12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Geosciences

Advisor

Steve K. Boss

Committee Member

Kevin M. Befus

Second Committee Member

Adriana Potra

Keywords

Demotechnic Index, Energy, Environment, Sustainability

Abstract

A country’s dependency on energy resources can be interpreted through the calculation of energy indices. The Demotechnic Index (DI) was used to determine the trajectory of energy efficiency of each state in the United States over the period 1960-2019. The DI serves as a measure of the energy intensity of states and a proxy for energy sustainability of each state.The DI is the ratio of total energy use to total metabolic energy demand of a population. Mathematically, DI = (E_T-E_M)/E_M E_T represents the total energy used (metabolic energy + technological energy in kilojoules annually, kJ/y), while EM represents the basic metabolic energy required by the population. Therefore, DI is the scalar multiple of energy used by a state over the quantity of energy required for simple human survival. The observed mean and median DI of the states increases somewhat irregularly during the period 1960-2019, ranging from means of 133.49 in 1960 to peak mean DI of 199.89 in the year 2000 and ending at mean of 173.45 in 2019, and medians of 75.58 in 1960 to 98.24 in 2019. Long-term incremental increase in energy intensity is a predictable outcome for a nation with ever-increasing population and increasing technological energy demand. Simply put, in a technological society, growing populations require greater energy consumption. (i.e. more people use more energy). Individual state DIs range across 4 orders of magnitude. New York had the highest calculated DI with a value of 2,127.03 in 1973. In 2016, Vermont had the lowest calculated DI at 4.69. Despite the broadly ranging DI scale, state-level DI values over 60-years fall into 3 broad categories illustrating long-term energy-use trajectories: increasing DI over time, stable DI over time, and decreasing DI over time. Few states change their energy trajectory during the period of observation. Incorporation of significant proportions of renewable energy sources in the state energy portfolios contributes to energy sustainability. However, energy sustainability is compromised if total energy use increases faster than population. Under such a scenario, energy intensity (i.e., DI) increases and requires additional energy production infrastructure and capacity, including additional renewable energy production capacity. Ideally, to progress toward energy sustainability, states must combine increased proportions of renewable energy sources with improved energy efficiency (i.e, reduced DI). Tracking DI trajectories over more than a half-century permits some long-term assessment of the energy efficiency of each state and, hence, an assessment of the relative commitment to energy-sustainability of state populations. The DI appeared to be responsive to a broad range of economic events that impact energy use. As such, DI appears to be meaningful as an index of energy intensity, energy efficiency, and aspects of energy sustainability. The strengths of the DI are its ease of calculation and evident scalability. It should be more widely adopted as an energy index.

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