Working papers

Consumer Surplus from Energy Transitions

Energy transitions have led to major advances in human wellbeing. However, little evidence exists about the scale of the net benefits. By developing a new method for identifying the demand curve, and by using a unique, historical data set, this paper estimates the consumer surplus associated with heating, transport and lighting over more than two hundred years and identifies the gains from a number of key energy transitions. For certain energy transitions, the increase was dramatic, reflecting the transformations in society and lifestyles that mobility and illumination provided in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet, the net benefits related to heating technologies only rose modestly. Finally, due to saturation effects of the demand for energy services, future technological developments and energy transitions may benefit consumers (though not necessarily society as a whole) less than those in the past.


van de Ven, D.J. and Fouquet, R. (2017) ‘Historical Energy Price Shocks and their Changing Effects on the Economy.’ Energy Economics 62 204-216.

Fouquet, R. (2016) ‘Path Dependence in Energy Systems and Economic Development.’ Nature Energy 1(8) 16098.

Fouquet, R. (2016) ‘Energy Services’ in Steven Durlauf and Lawrence Blume (Eds.), New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Palgrave Macmillian Publishing.

Fouquet, R. (2016) ‘Lessons from Energy History for Climate Policy: Technological Change, Demand and Economic Development.’ Energy Research & Social Science 22 79-93.

Fouquet, R. (2016) ‘Historical energy transitions: Speed, prices and system transformation.’ Energy Research & Social Science 22 7-12.

Fouquet, R. and S.N. Broadberry (2015) ‘Seven Centuries of European Economic Growth and Decline.’ Journal of Economic Perspectives 29(4) 227-44.

Fouquet, R. (2015) ‘The allocation of energy resources in the very long run.’ Journal of Natural Resource Policy Research (Special Issue on William Nordhaus) 7(2-3) 147-156.

Fouquet, R. (2014) ‘Long run demand for energy services: income and price elasticities over 200 years.’ Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 8(2) 186-207.

Fouquet, R. (2013) Handbook on Energy and Climate Change. Edward Elgar Publications. Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA, USA.

Fouquet, R. and P.J.G. Pearson (2012) ‘The long run demand for lighting: elasticities and rebound effects in different phases of economic development.’ Economics of Energy and Environmental Policy 1(1) 83-100.

Fouquet, R. (2012) ‘Trends in income and price elasticities of transport demand (1850-2010).’ Energy Policy 50: 50-61.

Fouquet, R. (2012) ‘The demand for environmental quality in driving transitions to low-polluting energy sources.’ Energy Policy 50: 130-41.

Fouquet, R. and P.J.G. Pearson (2012) ‘Past and Prospective Energy Transitions: Insights from History.’ Editorial for Energy Policy (Special Issue on Past and Prospective Energy Transitions) 50: 1-7.

Fouquet, R. (2011) ‘Divergences in long run trends in the prices of energy and energy services.’ Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 5(2) 196-218.

Fouquet, R. (2011) ‘Long run trends in energy-related external costs.’ Ecological Economics 70(12) 2380-9.

Fouquet, R. (2010) ‘The slow search for solutions: lessons from historical energy transitions by sector and service.’ Energy Policy 38(11) 6586-96.

Fouquet, R. (2008) Heat, Power and Light: Revolutions in Energy Services. Edward Elgar Publications. Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA, USA. Award for Outstanding Academic Book by Choice Magazine

Fouquet, R. and P.J.G. Pearson (2006) 'Seven centuries of energy services: the price and use of lighting in the United Kingdom (1300-2000).' The Energy Journal 27(1) 139-77. Award for Best Paper of the Year in The Energy Journal

Fouquet, R. and P.J.G. Pearson (2003) ‘Five centuries of energy prices.’ World Economics 4(3) 93-119.

Grubb, M., C. Hope and R. Fouquet (2002) Climatic implications of the Kyoto Protocol: the contribution of international spillovers. Climatic Change 54 11-28.

Grimston, M., V. Karakousis, R. Fouquet, R. van der Vorst, P.J.G. Pearson and M.Leach (2001) ‘The European and global potential for carbon sequestration in tackling climate change.’ Climate Policy 1(2) 155-171.

Hart, D., M.A. Leach, R. Fouquet, P.J.G. Pearson, and A. Bauen (2000) ‘Methanol infrastructure - will it affect the introduction of SPFC vehicles?’ Journal of Power Sources 86(1) 542-7.

Fouquet, R. and P.J.G. Pearson (1998) A thousand years of energy use in the United Kingdom, The Energy Journal 19(4) 1-41.

Fouquet, R (1998) The United Kingdom demand for renewable electricity in a liberalised market, Energy Policy 26(4) 281-94. FT/Andrew Holmes Memorial Award

Fouquet, R , D. Hawdon, P.J.G. Pearson, C. Robinson and P.G. Stevens (1997) The future of UK final user energy demand, Energy Policy 25(2), 231-40.

Gage, H. and R. Fouquet (1997) Explaining breast cancer mortality in England: the effect of socioeconomic factors and health care services. European Journal of Cancer Prevention 6(4) 341-50.

Fouquet, R and H. Gage (1996) The role of screening in reducing invasive cervical cancer registrations in England, Journal of Medical Screening 4(3)70-8.

Pearson, P.J.G. and R. Fouquet (1996) Energy efficiency, economic efficiency and future carbon dioxide emissions from the developing world’, The Energy Journal 17(4), 1-26.

Fouquet, R. (1995) The impact of VAT introduction on residential energy demand: an investigation using the co-integration approach. Energy Economics 17(3) 237-47.