Primary, Final, and Useful Energy Database (PFUDB)

Researchers from the Transition to New Technologies (TNT) Program have developed a new database of historical energy balances—Primary, Final, and Useful Energy Database (PFUDB)—to explore the impacts of input versus output measures of technological change that shed a new light on the possible speed of major technological transitions.



A new database of historical energy balances (PFUDB) has been developed by TNT’s Simon de Stercke in collaboration with Arnulf Grubler in order to

  • investigate alternative input- versus output-based measures of technological change and productivity growth and
  • reconstruct historical energy balances by sector and fuel at three alternative system boundaries (primary, final, and useful energy) for 25 countries and world regions [1].

PFUDB covers data series over the period 1900 to 2010, thus adding important new information to the portfolio of historical data sets that are an important feature of TNT research.

By applying standard emission factors, the database also allows historical CO2 balances to be reconstructed by type of economic activity, for which previously long-run time series have not been available.

The historical data sets are used within TNT’s own research into the dynamics of change of large, complex systems. First research findings suggest that the traditional view of century-long time scales in technological transitions might be an artefact arising from input-derived measures, with an output-oriented perspective suggesting the possibility of much faster systems transitions. The new tool has generated considerable external interests with emerging collaborative research projects instituted with colleagues in China, Germany, and the USA.

The PFUDB adds to the portfolio of TNT online research tools of models and data bases with a particular emphasis on long-term systems transformations that has become a signature feature of TNT’s research and that constitutes an effective communication strategy to assure wide global dissemination with thousands of researchers reached (Figure 1). All online tools have been developed and are maintained by Peter Kolp.

Figure 1. TNT software and database tools offered to the global science community (page visits and downloads, 2014 totals). Tools include the LSM2 model, and the ECDB (energy and carbon emissions inventories and their uncertainties), SD-ET (growth and scaling of energy technologies) and PFUDB (historical resource balances) data bases with historical data capturing major technological transitions that can be described using LSM2 (click on image to enlarge).


[1] de Stercke S (2014). Dynamics of Energy Systems: A Useful Perspective. IIASA Interim Report IR-14-013. 

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Last edited: 01 April 2015


Arnulf Grubler

Distinguished Emeritus Research Scholar Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group - Energy, Climate, and Environment Program

Primary, Final and Useful Energy Database (PFUDB)

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313