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Will small energy consumers be faster in transition? Evidence from the early shift from coal to oil in Latin America

Maria del Mar Rubio Varas and Mauricio Folchi

Energy Policy, 2012, vol. 50, issue C, 50-61

Abstract: This paper provide evidence of the early transition from coal to oil for 20 Latin American countries over the first half of the 20th century, which does not fit the transition experiences of large energy consumers. These small energy consumers had earlier and faster transitions than leading nations. We also provide evidence for alternative sequences (inverse, revertible) in the transition from coal to oil. Furthermore, we demonstrate that ‘leapfrogging’ allowed a set of follower economies to reach the next rung of the energy ladder (oil domination) 30 years in advance of the most developed economies. We examine these follower economies, where transition took place earlier and faster than the cases historically known, in order to understand variation within the energy transitions and to expand the array of feasible pathways of future energy transitions. We find that being a small energy consumer makes a difference for the way the energy transition takes place; but also path dependence (including trade and technological partnerships), domestic energy endowment (which dictates relative prices) and policy decisions seem to be the variables that shaped past energy transitions.

Keywords: Energy transition; Coal and petroleum consumption; Latin America (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.03.054

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