Urban energy consumption: Different insights from energy flow analysis, input–output analysis and ecological network analysis

Energy consumption has always been a central issue for sustainable urban assessment and planning. Different forms of energy analysis can provide various insights for energy policy making. This paper brought together three approaches for energy consumption accounting, i.e., energy flow analysis (EFA), input–output analysis (IOA) and ecological network analysis (ENA), and compared their different perspectives and the policy implications for urban energy use. Beijing was used to exemplify the different energy analysis processes, and the 42 economic sectors of the city were aggregated into seven components. It was determined that EFA quantifies both the primary and final energy consumption of the urban components by tracking the different types of fuel used by the urban economy. IOA accounts for the embodied energy consumption (direct and indirect) used to produce goods and services in the city, whereas the control analysis of ENA quantifies the specific embodied energy that is regulated by the activities within the city’s boundary. The network control analysis can also be applied to determining which economic sectors drive the energy consumption and to what extent these sectors are dependent on each other for energy. So-called “controlled energy” is a new concept that adds to the analysis of urban energy consumption, indicating the adjustable energy consumed by sectors. The integration of insights from all three accounting perspectives further our understanding of sustainable energy use in cities.