Keywords: entropy, technological efficiency
Technological efficiency improvements: beyond the prospects of first-law efficiencies
Efficiency improvements of technology are said to be one of the most important possibilities to satisfy the energy requirements of a growing global population and to mitigate adverse energy-related environmental impacts, such as climate change, at the same time. On the basis of the classical concept of first-law efficiency, however, conventional energy analyses lead to the impression that efficiency improvement potentials are almost exhausted. This paper explains why prevailing energy conversion efficiencies are grossly overestimated when measured in terms of first-law efficiencies. Using a stylised example, we compare the concepts of first-law and second-law efficiency. Our comparison indicates that estimates of current efficiency improvement potentials depend heavily upon the efficiency concept employed. In fact, there still seems to be much scope for efficiency improvements.