energy returned on energy invested
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Energy returned on energy invested

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The natural or primary energy sources are not included in the calculation of energy invested, only the human-applied sources. For example, in the case of biofuels the solar insolation driving photosynthesis is not included, and the energy used in the stellar synthesis of fissile elements is not included for nuclear fission.

The energy returned includes only human usable energy and not wastes such as waste heat. Nevertheless, heat of any form can be counted where it is actually used for heating. However the use of waste heat in district heating and water desalination in cogeneration plants is rare, and in practice it is often excluded in EROI analysis of energy sources. In order to produce, what they consider, a more realistic assessment and generate greater consistency in comparisons, than what Hall and others view as the "weak points" in a competing methodology.

In the case of photovoltaic solar panels, the IEA method tends to focus on the energy used in the factory process alone. In , Hall observed that much of the published work in this field is produced by advocates or persons with a connection to business interests among the competing technologies, and that government agencies had not yet provided adequate funding for rigorous analysis by more neutral observers. EROI and Net energy gain measure the same quality of an energy source or sink in numerically different ways.

Net energy describes the amounts, while EROI measures the ratio or efficiency of the process. They are related simply by. For example, given a process with an EROI of 5, expending 1 unit of energy yields a net energy gain of 4 units.

The break-even point happens with an EROI of 1 or a net energy gain of 0. Although many qualities of an energy source matter for example oil is energy-dense and transportable, while wind is variable , when the EROI of the main sources of energy for an economy fall that energy becomes more difficult to obtain and its relative price may increase. In regard to fossil fuels, when oil was originally discovered, it took on average one barrel of oil to find, extract, and process about barrels of oil.

The ratio, for discovery of fossil fuels in the United States, has declined steadily over the last century from about in to only in the s. Since the invention of agriculture, humans have increasingly used exogenous sources of energy to multiply human muscle-power.

Some historians have attributed this largely to more easily exploited i. Looking at the maximum extent of the Roman Empire , 60 million and its technological base the agrarian base of Rome was about per hectare for wheat and for alfalfa giving a One can then use this to calculate the population of the Roman Empire required at its height, on the basis of about 2,—3, calories per day per person.

It comes out roughly equal to the area of food production at its height. But ecological damage deforestation , soil fertility loss particularly in southern Spain, southern Italy, Sicily and especially north Africa saw a collapse in the system beginning in the 2nd century, as EROI began to fall.

It bottomed in when Rome's population, which had peaked under Trajan at 1. Evidence also fits the cycle of Mayan and Cambodian collapse too. Joseph Tainter [26] suggests that diminishing returns of the EROI is a chief cause of the collapse of complex societies, which has been suggested as caused by peak wood in early societies.

Falling EROI due to depletion of high quality fossil fuel resources also poses a difficult challenge for industrial economies, and could potentially lead to declining economic output and challenge the concept which is very recent when considered from a historical perspective of perpetual economic growth.

Tim Garrett links EROI and inflation directly, based on a thermodynamic analysis that links current world energy consumption Watts to a historical accumulation of inflation-adjusted global wealth US dollars known as the Garrett Relation. This economic growth model indicates that global EROI is the inverse of global inflation over a given time interval. Because the model aggregates supply chains globally, local EROI is outside its scope.

EROI is calculated by dividing the energy output by the energy input. Measuring total energy output is often easy, especially in the case for an electrical output where some appropriate electricity meter can be used. However, researchers disagree on how to determine energy input accurately and therefore arrive at different numbers for the same source of energy.

How deep should the probing in the supply chain of the tools being used to generate energy go? For example, if steel is being used to drill for oil or construct a nuclear power plant, should the energy input of the steel be taken into account? Should the energy input into building the factory being used to construct the steel be taken into account and amortized?

Should the energy input of the roads which are used to ferry the goods be taken into account? What about the energy used to cook the steelworkers' breakfasts? These are complex questions evading simple answers. However, when comparing two energy sources a standard practice for the supply chain energy input can be adopted. For example, consider the steel, but don't consider the energy invested in factories deeper than the first level in the supply chain.

It is in part for these fully encompassed systems reasons, that in the conclusions of Murphy and Hall's paper in , an EROI of 5 by their extended methodology is considered necessary to reach the minimum threshold of sustainability, [18] while a value of by Hall's methodology is considered the minimum value necessary for technological progress and a society supporting high art.

The difference is that it uses the design lifetime of the system, which is known in advance, rather than the actual lifetime. This also means that it can be adapted to multi-component systems where the components have different lifetimes. Another issue with EROI that many studies attempt to tackle is that the energy returned can be in different forms, and these forms can have different utility. For example, electricity can be converted more efficiently than thermal energy into motion, due to electricity's lower entropy.

In addition, the form of energy of the input can be completely different from the output. For example, energy in the form of coal could be used in the production of ethanol. This might have an EROI of less than one, but could still be desirable due to the benefits of liquid fuels assuming the latters are not used in the processes of extraction and transformation. There are three prominent expanded EROI calculations, they are point of use, extended and societal.

Point of Use EROI expands the calculation to include the cost of refining and transporting the fuel during the refining process. Since this expands the bounds of the calculation to include more production process EROI will decrease. A societal EROI has never been calculated and researchers believe it may currently be impossible to know all variables necessary to complete the calculation, but attempted estimates have been made for some nations. Calculations are done by summing all of the EROIs for domestically produced and imported fuels and comparing the result to the Human Development Index HDI , a tool often used to understand well-being in a society.

The following table is a compilation of sources of energy from German Wikipedia. The minimum requirement is a breakdown of the cumulative energy expenses according to material data. Frequently in literature harvest factors are reported, for which the origin of the values is not completely transparent.

These are not included in this table. The bold numbers are those given in the respective literature source, the normal printed ones are derived see Mathematical Description. One of the notable outcomes of the Stanford University team's assessment on ESOI, was that if pumped storage was not available, the combination of wind energy and the commonly suggested pairing with battery technology as it presently exists, would not be sufficiently worth the investment, suggesting instead curtailment.

A related recent concern is energy cannibalism where energy technologies can have a limited growth rate if climate neutrality is demanded. Many energy technologies are capable of replacing significant volumes of fossil fuels and concomitant green house gas emissions. Unfortunately, neither the enormous scale of the current fossil fuel energy system nor the necessary growth rate of these technologies is well understood within the limits imposed by the net energy produced for a growing industry.

This technical limitation is known as energy cannibalism and refers to an effect where rapid growth of an entire energy producing or energy efficiency industry creates a need for energy that uses or cannibalizes the energy of existing power plants or production plants. The solar breeder overcomes some of these problems. A solar breeder is a photovoltaic panel manufacturing plant which can be made energy-independent by using energy derived from its own roof using its own panels.

Such a plant becomes not only energy self-sufficient but a major supplier of new energy, hence the name solar breeder. In the Sahara Solar Breeder Project was proposed by the Science Council of Japan as a cooperation between Japan and Algeria with the highly ambitious goal of creating hundreds of GW of capacity within 30 years. In practice, nuclear breeder reactors are the only large scale breeders that have been constructed as of , with the MWe BN and MWe BN reactor , the two largest in operation.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ratio of usable energy from a resource. See also: Ecological economics. See also: Cadmium telluride photovoltaics. CdTe 5. CIGS 2. Energy portal Renewable energy portal Business and economics portal Ecology portal Environment portal. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. PMID S2CID Energy Policy. Scientific American. Fraunhofer ISE. July 28, Archived PDF from the original on July 25, Retrieved August 31, Environmental Science and Technology.

Bibcode : EnST Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Western Resource Advocates. Retrieved Applied Energy. Proceedings of the IEEE. May 27, As noted earlier, Vattenfall's most recent EPD shows life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions for Forsmark of 3. The figure for British Energy's Torness nuclear power plant in was 5. For a further and unrelated critique see University of Sydney-based discussion and more specifically, the rebuttal of Storm van Leeuwan on the nuclearinfo.

These mines report their energy use as 0. As well as EROI and CO 2 emissions, a further criterion for comparing electricity generation is the materials intensity per unit of power installed, and more importantly per unit of energy delivered TWh. This is related to both energy inputs making steel, cement, etc. Materials requirements excluding fuels for electricity generation technologies: tonnes per TWh. Source: Table The Quadrennial Technology Review notes that certain materials are deemed 'critical' for power generation, though in smaller quantities than most of those tabulated above.

Chapter 10 states: "Critical materials have important magnetic, catalytic, and luminescent properties, with applications in solar PV, wind turbines, electric vehicles and efficient lighting. Five rare earth metals dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium, and yttrium , as well as indium, were assessed as most critical between and Four other rare earth elements, as well as gallium, tellurium, cobalt, and lithium, were also considered.

Important factors include high demand, limited substitutes, political or regulatory risks in countries where critical materials are produced, lack of diversity in producers, and competing technology demand e. Chapman P. Vestas, , Life Cycle Assessment of offshore and onshore sited wind power plants based on Vestas V Hall C. An updated version appeared in mid August , then a "thoroughly-revised" version in May , together with a "rebuttal" of this critique.

However, at no point do the authors engage or refer to the substantive WNA paper to which this is an appendix! This was partly rectified in the version. They purport to offer "evidence" that building, operating and producing fuel for a nuclear plant produces as much carbon dioxide as a similar sized gas-fired plant. The foregoing WNA paper, quoting all the reputable studies we are aware of, shows that this is demonstrably wrong - there is a 20 to fold difference in favour of nuclear.

The SLS arguments regarding sustainability are based on a "Limits to Growth" perception of mineral resources and a misunderstanding of the notion of ore reserves. The fallacies of the "Limits to Growth" argument have been well canvassed since the s, and their falsity best illustrated by declining mineral prices in real terms. The SLS papers depend on outdated and invalid assumptions, largely because many of the figures used are taken from a study originally done in Much has changed since then and much more work has been done on quantifying the issue.

One important point of agreement with Storm van Leeuwen and Smith, however, is that all relevant energy inputs throughout the fuel cycle need to be considered in any comparison with fossil fuels or other sources of electricity. Their assertion that large energy debts are incurred in operating the nuclear fuel cycle, on the other hand, is demonstrably false, as is the assumption that nuclear plants incur excessive economic debts. Any debts incurred are normally funded during operation.

Moreover, they are minor and of the same order as those of other industrial plant. The energy debts are trivial in relation to the net output from any nuclear plant. The brief paper itself now 8 pages and devoid of data except for its preoccupation with low ore grades refers to a "Facts and Data" supplement. The , page version was a little closer to real life than the earlier page version, though it did correct some gross errors. The version was said to be "thoroughly revised" and chapters of the web version are fourth and sixth revision.

Rather than using audited industry data the version used figures which are questionable and need to be examined in more detail. Some of these figures are changed in the version. Electrical figures multiplied by 3 to give basis comparable with main paper.

The revision has 3. Fuel fabrication 3. While some figures are based on real data, others depend on a notional relationship between capital costs and energy inputs which in the case of nuclear power need to be qualified for sometimes lengthy construction delays. It is quite obvious that if the capital cost blows out due to delays, the energy cost of a plant does not increase accordingly. It should be possible to get actual energy data for recent nuclear plants constructed in Japan, South Korea and Europe but neither we nor SLS have them.

The life-cycle assessment for Vattenfall's Forsmark-3 nuclear plant showed that 4. But reference to this happily seems to have been jettisoned. Some of the figures quoted above from the paper are based on real data, but some are apparently far from having any empirical basis, particularly those depending on speculative and unsupported figures from the earlier paper.

The energy costs of uranium mining and milling are well known and published, and form a small part of the overall total. Even if they were ten times higher they would still be insignificant overall. However, the authors first totally ignored these but in have published data mostly from s but finally arriving the figures quoted above which are reasonable and in line with ours.

These confirm that the capital, decommissioning and waste management costs are not unduly high nor even close to the well-quantified energy costs of enrichment. The following indicates how widely the and subsequent SLS figures diverge from recently-published data treating it all on thermal basis : Power plant construction: suggested as 95 PJ.

This is four times higher than the nearest published figure from the s, and more significantly it compares with 4. Power plant operation: given as 2. Power plant decommissioning: suggested as being more than twice that for construction, but see above re Vattenfall life cycle study where it is aggregated with construction.

Uranium enrichment: 3. Spent fuel management: 2. Mining: It is difficult to discern a sensible figure from the paper, though it is clear that ores of less than 0. However, little of the world's uranium comes from such. In contrast, a modest 5.

If the Ranger operation were producing from 0. The increasing production from solution in situ leaching mining including some low grade ores would be lower again. See also the rebuttal of Storm van Leeuwan on the nuclearinfo. Recent life-cycle assessment LCA studies such as Vattenfall's show figures around ten times lower for key capital and waste-related energy demands.

The Vattenfall life cycle study gives a bottom line of 1. Others might see a 20 to fold difference between nuclear and gas or coal as significant. The audited Vattenfall figure for CO 2 emission on lifecycle basis is 3. This could approximately double if nuclear power inputs to enrichment were replaced by fossil fuel ones, but it is still very low. The authors' other point, that nuclear energy is not sustainable, is addressed in the Sustainable Energy and Supply of Uranium papers in this series.

Life-cycle analysis, focused on energy, is useful for comparing net energy yields from different methods of electricity generation. Nuclear power shows up very well as a net provider of energy, and only hydro electricity is nearly comparable. External costs, evaluated as part of life-cycle assessment, strongly favour nuclear over coal-fired generation. EPR of MWe: , m 3 concrete, 70, t metal — m 3 concrete and Life-cycle analysis: external costs and greenhouse gases A principal concern of life-cycle analysis for energy systems today is their likely contribution to global warming.

There is no reason to suggest that the energy capital of centrifuge plants would be greater. About two-thirds of current enrichment is by centrifuge. The future use of new reactor designs, including fast reactors, is dismissed on the grounds that some research programs in Europe have been closed down.

However, Russia has been operating a MW commercial fast reactor at Beloyarsk in the Urals for decades and on the basis of its operating success is now building a new larger version on the same site. The main reason there are not more fast reactors is that they are uneconomic in an era of low uranium prices. SLS completely misrepresents the reason for fast reactors being sidelined: the abundance of cheap uranium fuel.

Should uranium ever look like becoming scarce, there is over reactor-years of operating experience, including some in breeder reactor mode, on which to base a new generation of fast breeder reactors. Over the shorter term, no allowance is made for plant life extension of nuclear reactors, although this is now commonplace and extends operating life significantly, typically to 60 years.

In uranium mining, energy costs are now very well quantified, and no consideration is given to relatively new technologies such as in-situ leaching which is more efficient than traditional mining methods in terms of both cost and energy use.

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It into a different USB port, August Retrieved 28 March Yes, it is intended to group project in your PC to course during my final year at. And if you you want to in Sakila model Install Service button, 16 bytes" appearing. Windows Viewer: Multiple worked for me.

We are past peak. Thanks for the quick review, I'll have to look through the document. Your phrasing describing the power structure in the Oceans scenario was intriguing. This progress is seen as most likely through technological interconnection between entities that creates a new class of Mandarin who is less accountable to traditional masters.

In this scenario, Shell sees the world increasingly run by more flexible and decentralized governments "that have embraced radical pathways to economic sustainability. Were giant global corporations like Shell classified as the traditional masters or the new Mandarins? Your phrasing kind of makes it sound like Shell sees the new Dutch East India Company's of the world as calling all the shots once they have usurped all the national powers that they found useful while discarding any responsibilities that might have been tied to those powers and concurrently delegating anything that might detract from the bottom line to the shell's of nations remaining so of course the costs could be spread away from the Company shareholders I'd change the way all-liquids is defined just in case the cornucopians get over excited.

One change would that liquids should be transport compatible. That is condensates like propane that are unlikely to make into petrol should be excluded. I realise LPG or autogas is a vehicle fuel but it is minor. Check it. That combined series will be declining. I have this idea that certain people have good hunches and Pickens may be one of them. A decade from now we'll know who is right.

After the financial crisis, Walmart laid off more than , workers in order to economize. Some of the shelves of their huge stores, built before to accommodate a more speedy, immense throughput more embodied energy, that is cannot be restocked. It is simply not worth it for Walmart to hire the people back to restock some shelves. So what happens? People who used to drive to Walmart no longer do, because they burn too much gasoline going there to make the savings on goods worthwhile , since they cannot get all the items on their list anymore.

The cycle is a vicious one, with economizing on the part of the customers leading to further restocking issues and more layoffs and reductions in time worked. This is how we perceive EROEIit's action on us is indirectand to be sure, the same feedback mechanisms will claim I mean stifle economic activity at the tar sands and the shale plays, it is only a matter of time.

Overcapacity on all kinds of economic fronts is one way to see peak oil in action. And the analysts who deny peak oil are silent on the topic. Economics is not 'their sphere' of expertise, I am sure they would say. Let's use the That's a 13 kwh of grid electricity that could have been delivered to your wall socket from the energy used to produce each gallon of oil sands based gasoline under ideal conditions.

This doesn't take into account the energy used in finding, developing and finally repairing the environmental damage of the oil sands operation. Accounting for average battery charge efficiency see EPA sticker for each car , how much above the 23 mpg average can the new technology cars go on 13 kwhs from your wall socket? That's enough electricity for the Chevy Volt to go 37 miles, the same distance it can go burning the gasoline.

The Tesla family sedan also has the advantage of being able to spank many purpose-built sports cars such as the 10 mpg hp Dodge Viper. It appears that using natural gas and grid electricity to produce oil instead of applying it directly to our transportation needs is like feeding bread to a cow instead of grain. Yes it works, but it is an unnecessary and costly waste that only the baker benefits from. If you include the energy efficiency of the power plant used to generate electricity, yes, in many cases electric doesn't compare favorably to a efficient diesel engine.

If the electricity is generated by wind or solar, then electricity is a much better source. The main problems with electric cars still being the availability of large volumes of electric vehicles and the fact that electric vehicle manufacture itself runs off the oil platform.

Parts are delivered with vehicles or ships that use oil-based fuels. Before I discuss the logic behind negating a peak of production of anything, let me sum up where we are in the U. The United States consumed The United States was third in crude oil production at 5. But crude oil alone does not constitute all U. Significant gains occur, because crude oil expands in the refining process, liquid fuel is captured in the processing of natural gas, and we have other sources of liquid fuel, including biofuels.

These additional supplies totaled 4. First, let's look at the history of oil production in the U. The vertical axis is scaled with a unit of power, exajoules EJ per year, very close to quadrillion BTUs quads per year. Now, let's look at the refinery gains in the second chart. These gains arise because petroleum products are usually less dense than the crudes they are made from. Therefore, refinery gains are not really a replacement of imported crude oil, and demonstrate only that since , the U.

Corn ethanol comes next. I described the ethanol story completely in , in my most popular paper ever. There was nothing new I would add in the intervening 8 years. Basically, ethanol is obtained from burning methane, coal, diesel fuel, gasoline, corn kernels, soil and environment. We destroy perhaps as many as 7 units of free energy in the environment and human economy to produce 1 unit of free energy as corn ethanol, and make a few clueless environmentalists happier and a few super rich corporations richer.

The story is even worse for switchgrass ethanol. Production of soybean biodiesel in the U. Since most of the obliteration of the irreplaceable biota occurs in the tropics, in Brazil, Argentina, Africa, and Asia Pacific, we really don't care. Either way, the rate of biodiesel production in the U.

In summary, of the 4. Biodiesel production was in the noise. I fear that EIA simply added volumes of the various fuels without converting them to oil equivalents based on a common oil density and heating value. The rest of the other "oil", 2. All of these liquids are significantly less dense than crude oil, and a proper conversion lowers their volume contribution by 25 percent. Needless to say, refinery gains do not inject new energy into the U.

Also, propane and butane are not crude oil, and ethanol is not a hydrocarbon. The only hard number here, 5. This level of production requires an incredible amount of new technology and technical skills that are available only in the U. My department graduates each year about petroleum engineers of all levels, who make this huge effort such a smashing success. Their starting salaries are in excess of three-four times the national average for college graduates.

And they all have jobs. In conclusion, Russia is using similar technology to increase their rate of crude oil production to over 11 MMbopd, and Saudi Arabia is barely hanging in at MMbopd. Both these countries also produce large volumes of lease condensates and natural gas plant liquids. The rate of U. But this is just fine, so let's stop deluding ourselves with such tenacity.

In the next blog, I will talk about the various techniques of denying existence of peak oil or climate change, or anything else we fear or do not like. So, did I miss anything in my discussion of the EIA quote at the top of this blog? Think carefully Yes, I did. In , we consumed With less cash in pocket, less driving, and more efficient cars, we have destroyed demand for almost as much of real crude oil as all other imaginary "oils" quoted by EIA and dutifully propagated through the clueless mediadom.

Why isn't this achievement front-page news? We finally use less crude oil! We are more efficient! This incredible news is evidently not as sexy as making up imaginary "oil" to be on par with the Saudis. Have we gone mad?! I take it back: Have we stumbled even deeper into the destructive imperial madness that has infected us for the last 11 years?

And, you, corn ethanol lovers, read this and fear the future. Five years after my well-researched plea to the EU Ministers of Environment and Transportation, EU is considering limiting use of biofuels:. This would be a substantial change to its present biofuels policy.

According to the EU's climate-change and energy commissioners, Europe wants to cap the share of energy in the transport sector from food crop-based biofuels at current levels. This goal was set by the EU three years ago because food crop-based biofuels account for most biofuels available in volumes at the moment. New types of alternative fuels are being developed, but they are mostly at the laboratory stage. At the same time, biofuels are expected to be the main renewable energy source used in transport in Despite the obvious insanity of the last sentence, I say: Better late than never, dear Europe, and much better than the U.

I have no idea what IEA predicts, but I surely know that this number is incorrect, if it implies current production of liquid hydrocarbons in the U. If you play pretend, the crash will be less severe and everyone will have time to prepare, so some theory goes Well, that seems about as rational as the rest of it.

Forget history, make that your mantra. Just keep repeating it over and over to yourself and it will all work out. But you have to believe it. Visualize those hydrocarbon lakes on Titan if it helps. And get back in your car and go to work. Earn your salary, pay your taxes, mortgage, mow your lawn, deal with the bank, etc. Oh, and don't worry about progeny. It will all sort itself out.

If you toe the line. At that time, David Fridley, an expert on oil economics, worked under Chu. In an interview given in , Fridley claims, "[Chu] was my boss He knows all about peak oil, but he can't talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can't say anything about it. The data and estimates of IHS on the global oil reserves are significantly less than those published in the public domain When you take a long hydrocarbon chain molecule from a heavy crude batch, then separate it into two smaller molecules lighter liquid you need a couple of hydrogen atoms to replace the C - C bond that has been broken.

They have taken energy from natural gas and embedded it in the processed crude. Besides, the heat to drive this process also comes from natural gas. EIA clearly does not deduct energy from natural gas account when saying refinery liquid production increased due to refinery gains. We are taking from one energy account and transferring to another with some loss. On a net energy basis refinery gains are a net loser. Net energy is the best indicator of useful work as it takes into account the lower EROEI ratios of newer resources coming on-line.

If we used net energy in all of our arguments it would soon be clear that we now live in a negatively sloped net energy production world. As the world's population numbers continue to rise and the net energy available to that rising human population per capita is calculated, the real picture is painted. I understand why the rest of the world ignores these trends but it seems even the most enlightened few that live in the TOD world are also hesitant to accept the true situation.

Of course, the further away we are from the industry that provides our paycheck, the easier it is to see the forest for the trees. Perhaps the thought of the year ride down the back side of the fossil fuel bell curve is just too depressing to think about. Regardless, the truth will improve our plans and policies and help mitigate the suffering.

Not a soft landing but a softer landing. Funny how rare it is to hear their sound. For you doomers, my latest rantings FWIW. David Korowizc speaks about that and of course I sort of suggest it in my first comment here-- the idea of playing the game that you then can't easily or safely opt out of. Maybe a little like some movie-version of joining the mob and then trying to quit it and having your life threatened if you do. According to him, the dystopia of the Wachowski Brothers' Matrix trilogy is already here: the technological-industrial 'machine' is already running the world, a world where individual humans are but insignificant little cogs with barely any autonomy.

No single human being - neither the most powerful politician, nor the most powerful businessman - has the power to rein in the system. They necessarily have to follow the inexorable logic of what has been unleashed. Neo: I can't go back, can I? Morpheus: No. But if you could, would you really want to? We never free a mind once it's reached a certain age. It's dangerous, the mind has trouble letting go As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free. The mirage is produced by economics.

As long as money can be made from net loss energy schemes, they will somehow seem to be practical. If you're saying we haven't reached a solid consensus or come up with a clear solution to either point, well then let me be the first to wish you luck on the quest. They are surely both key aspects to our energy predicament, each one woolly and scratchy in its own way. What would you do about them?

I mean, missing is never being said and focus is like the only thing being said. So, I guess in that context, I am "silly". It would difficult to be anything but! With that said, I understand that the task of enlightening the masses is futile and that humanity has to learn The Great Lesson the hard way.

I only hope that the few small groups of people, many of them here on TOD, can keep a more consistent message of what is going on. Then we can say, "Well, it was all explained clearly on TOD and other forums and papers. Perhaps that is just beating a dead horse and gets boring so we tend to mix it up for fun. Perhaps we could vote on a suggested list of resources that people can view that will give them the best picture of reality.

Something like a short program that can be followed, step by step, that lays it out in a clear way that most of us here agree with. How about a big green button that says, "If you are new or need a review, click here! We see continual appeals to the importance of both. I don't object to their importance, either..

But above all, is the reliable resurrection of the plea that asks why we never talk about Population! As far as outreach.. I'm afraid the Economists keep hogging the mic's, and people seem to let them, being so comforted by the reassurances that their money will be safe and sound. This is enabled only partially by technological innovation, but mostly by high oil prices.

And counterintuitively to the mainstream understanding, this actually unlocks lots of "new" oil that wasn't available before. This is the apparent paradox we are witnessing now, exactly as predicted by Peak Oil "theory", which is that as we "run out" of oil, our economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves actually grow, but this is only due to increasing prices.

The problem with the new unconventional oil sources is they are slow and expensive, and this kills demand. Eventually a peak, or plateau, is reached in production rate after which it declines. Of course the cornucopian media latches on to the increase in recoverable reserves from unconventional sources as evidence that technology will conquer adversity, that our reserves are growing faster than our yearly consumption of them.

This can continue for centuries, they argue. This increase in reserve size can't continue indefinitely. Eventually geology or social collapse takes over from price as the predominant parameter limiting production rate. As Gail's triangle in the TOD post the other day shows, the reserves of unconventional fossil fuels at the base are quite large. But it would have been more effective to draw that triangle differently, with a base that fizzles out into nothing, rather than being a hard line which tends to suggest at a quick glance that they are equivalent kinds of fossil fuels at the top and the bottom.

But the base has such a low EROEI that at some point we won't be able to support society properly anymore even though we're still sitting on trillions of tonnes of fossil fuels. So without renewables, society ends somewhere at the base of that pyramid; where exactly, who knows, which is why there should be no hard line at the base.

The liquids fuel problem is serious and just pretending we could, like overnight, convert to electricity or something else, is truly silly. Conversions will come slow and hard and at great expense. And some things will never be converted. In order to change our ways, we seem to need to terrify ourselves I literally can't stand being on the American highway. To me it is almost like being in a prison of madness Driving like crazy people. Where are they going?

And why are so many of them going in that direction? They are all fleeing something. I would like to inquire what is in those trucks that are tearing down the road. Is it something of no use at all? Or something which is present where it is going? And often I have seen trucks, apparently carrying identical cargo, going in opposite directions, carting it here and there.

The drivers tell me that they are carrying widgets I've previously suggested that assigning all the processing gains to US production is factually incorrect, instead the processing gains resulting from refining imported crude should be added to the total for imports. Of course, the EIA misses the whole discussion about biofuels, especially ethanol, which require a large input of fossil fuels to produce the final product.

The EIA ignores this fuel input, showing biofuels as an input to the front end of the refining process. Doing this calculation would increase the fraction of energy imported, which would give a more realistic picture of our situation Energy cannot be created or destroyed.

US refiners continue to quote their refining capacities and products in barrels - a unit of volume which is meaningless unless a density unit is also quoted. What you should consider is the mass unit. When the crude is distiller in the crude unit it will produce a number of products with different densities and therefore different mass per barrel.

Measure the products in barrels and you will have the following barrels per tonne. In a cat cracker, with no hydrogen addition the mass of products is constant but because the volume of LESS dense light products exceed the total volume of HEAVY dense products , hey presto there is a refinery gain - in volume but not in mass. Refiners love to sell in units of volume as they can benefit form the sleight of hand of selling a less dense and lower energy product to unsuspecting drivers.

When energy density is compared in mass units there is NO significant difference between gasoline, jet or diesel. It is about MJ per Kg but very different in volume units. Cracking can be done without addition of hydrogen, either by separately coking the heavier fractions of the crude before cracking producing large volumes of solid carbon-rich petroleum coke, frequently a desirable byproduct which is further improved for use in metallurgy , or coking by deposition on the catalytic cracker unit itself usually simply burned off in batches.

In neither case does any non-crude-oil energy input contribute to the increased volume of the light hydrocarbon products. Indeed the liquid products are of considerably less mass and energy than the input crude petroleum. Indeed to the best of my knowledge hydrogenation in cracking units is not the norm. The main use of hydrogen in petroleum processing is in fact to remove sulfur and nitrogen from the fuel -- in which process it does not add energy to the desulfurised fuel product, but rather to the sulfuric and nitric acid byproducts.

The hydrogen may be generated by steam reformation of natural gas, but coke from crude oil is also used as feedstock for steam reformation. If the refinery is breaking H-C bonds in the hydrocarbon chain molecule and producing free C which you call coke , then the liquids produced have shorter chain molecules total number of carbons reduced.

Fewer H-C bonds mean lower energy. So using catalytic cracker that produces coke removes energy from the resulting liquid. My claim of lower net energy in the oil product still stands regardless of refining method. In either case refinery gains should not be counted as energy production.

Using volume is clearly a ploy to improve the numbers, as is the double counting of barrels that are used for production e. This won't fool Mother Nature. ERoEI only becomes an issue when the most critical units of work they will make themselves obvious as the economy rapidly increases their value suck up almost all the energy and almost none is left to go out and multiply its value in this unfathomably complex economy.

Consumer choices such as large-screen vs. Tatas, could be "informed" by an embodied energy tax similar to the VAT. Or just pay for them with energy chits as in the technocrat economy. Funny, but I couldn't disagree more. Then again, I guess it all depends on the definition of "real world". In fact, in my real world, money means nothing compared to net energy.

In any finite system of interest, if you don't have your EROEI set high enough, no amount of money, currency, gold, policy, technology or voodoo magic is going to change the inevitable. Sure, short term systems often rely on a way of distributing resources that are very important and can seem to overshadow the importance of net energy. However, in the long term, none of that matters if there is not enough net energy to support the complexity of the system.

You can be sitting on a mountain of resources but starve to death if you don't have the net energy needed to transform those resources in a way that supports your own complex system. The higher the net energy you have, the more complexity you can support, depending on the other available resources.

Money follows net energy, not the other way around. If there is not enough net energy, humans would not have enough time, beyond finding enough food, to invent money as a way of figuring out what to do with their free time. Oil can be an energy sink and it will be viable to extract ie I can't put coal in my chainsaw. An oil well could be drilled with electric power, oil sands can be extracted with eg natural gas inputs and nuclear electricity - the EROEI could potentially be negative - but I will still need liquid fuel for my chainsaw.

You see, it is not as simple as it appears. I have never seen it discussed, but I know that the end use of the oil matters too - there can be energy gain here also that is not practical with other forms of energy - but it is not considered EROEI. I'd argue that there is an apparent and temporary disconnect between energy and money enabled only by ridiculously cheap debt low interest rates , all imposed by the Fed.

This leads some to believe that money is what matters in the real world which it currently does , rather than energy. But this is only due to the ponzi scheme monetary system I'm always harping about. This rubber band is about to snap and the two concepts of energy and money will come back in line with each other soon, and this will be effected through a catastrophic collapse of the world's financial system.

These days, what with financial corruption, money doesn't even appear to have much to do with its own rules anymore. If everybody knew the full facts about how money is issued, how it's put into circulation, who is issuing it, how they have power and control over the economy, and over individuals' lives, I think there'd be a lot of very unhappy people around.

The overall EROEI is now but the producers make a nice profit and furthermore can claim the entire reserve as recoverable at the current cost. After depletion of the source they might have to use their own oil for production. Now half of the reserve is consumed to get the other half, and the extraction rate has to double to provide the same net output. A year supply becomes a 25 year supply. And that is assuming there is no increase to offset the loss of the source.

The price can be expected to rise correspondingly. The product which is exported is mostly bitumen, which is not "tar" as some people would have you believe, but it is about the heaviest grade of oil you can buy. Midwest oil refineries no longer have sufficient domestic oil to keep running, but there is lots of Canadian bitumen and it is very cheap to buy although not to produce.

They upgrade it using coking, and make a ton of money turning it into gasoline. Despite the fact that the EROEI of coking is negative there is an energy loss , there is a huge refinery gain in going from very heavy bitumen to much lighter gasoline. The EIA counts this as "US oil production" despite the fact it comes from the Canadian oil sands and involves a net loss of energy.

It's not really oil, in physical terms it's some kind of an extreme vacuum, or a form of negative energy. I'll take a break from writing about behavioral adaptations and get back to Do the Math roots with an evaluation of solar power from space and the giant hurdles such a scheme would face. On balance, I don't expect to see this technology escape the realm of fantasy and find a place in our world.

The expense and difficulty are incommensurate with the gains. My major point when I gave my talk at the Fifth Biophysical Economics Conference at the University of Vermont was that our economy's overall energy return on investment is already too low to maintain the economic system we are accustomed to.

That is why the US economy, and the economies of other developed nations, are showing signs of heading toward financial collapse. My analysis is with respect to the feasibility of keeping our current economic system operating. It seems to me that the problems we are experiencing today—governments with inadequate funding, low economic growth, a financial system that cannot operate with "normal" interest rates, and stagnant to falling wages—are precisely the kinds of effects we might expect, if energy sources are providing an inadequate energy return for today's economy.

Commenters frequently remark that such-and-such an energy source has an Energy Return on Energy Invested EROI ratio of greater than , so must be a helpful addition to our current energy supply. My finding that the overall energy return is already too low seems to run counter to this belief. In this post, I will try to explain why this difference occurs. Part of the difference is that I am looking at what our current economy requires, not some theoretical low-level economy.

Also, I don't think that it is really feasible to create a new economic system, based on lower EROI resources, because today's renewables are fossil-fuel based, and initially tend to add to fossil fuel use. In order to extract oil or create biofuels, or to make any other type of energy investment, at least four distinct elements described in Figure 1: 1 adequate payback on energy invested, 2 sufficient wages for humans, 3 sufficient credit availability and 4 sufficient funds for government services.

If any of these is lacking, the whole system has a tendency to seize up. EROI analyses tend to look primarily at the first item on the list, comparing "energy available to society" as the result of a given process to "energy required for extraction" all in units of energy. While this comparison can be helpful for some purposes, it seems to me that we should also be looking at whether the dollars collected at the end-product level are sufficient to provide an adequate financial return to meet the financial needs of all four areas simultaneously.

My list of the four distinct elements necessary to enable energy extraction and to keep the economy functioning is really an abbreviated list. Clearly one needs other items, such as profits for businesses. In a sense, the whole world economy is an energy delivery system.

This is why it is important to understand what the system needs to function properly. When oil prices rise, wages for humans seem to fall, or at least stagnate Figure 2, below. The comparison shown uses US per capita wages, so takes into account changes in the proportion of people with jobs as well as the level of wages. Figure 2. High oil prices are associated with depressed wages. The reason why the drop in wages happens at higher per-barrel levels is related to the drop in corporate profits that can be expected if oil prices rise, and businesses fail to respond.

Let me explain this further with Figure 3, below. Figure 3. Illustration by author of ways oil price rise could squeeze wages. Amounts illustrative, not based on averages. Figure 3 is a bit complicated. What happens initially when oil prices rise, is illustrated in the black box at the left. What happens is that the business' profits fall, because oil is used as one of the inputs used in manufacturing and transportation. If the cost of oil rises and the sales price of the product remains unchanged, the company's profits are likely to fall.

Additionally, there may be some reduction in demand for the product, because the discretionary income of consumers is reduced because of rising oil prices. Clearly, the business will want to fix its business model, so that it can again make an adequate profit. There are three ways that a business can bring its profits back to a satisfactory level, illustrated in the last three columns of Figure 3. Human energy is the most expensive type of energy a business can employ, because wages to paid to humans to do a given process such as putting a label on a jar are far higher than the cost of an electricity-based process to perform the same procedure.

Thus, if a firm can substitute electrical or oil energy for human energy, its cost of production will be lower, and profits can be improved. Of course, workers will be laid off in the process, reducing total wages paid. If part of the production cost can be moved to a country where wage costs are lower, this will reduce the cost of manufacturing the product, and allow the business to offset partially or fully the impact of rising oil prices.

Of course, this will again lead to less US employment of workers. If neither of the above options work, another possibility is to cut back production across the board. Even if oil prices rise, there are still some consumers who can afford the higher prices. If a business can cut back in the size of its operations for example, close unprofitable branches or fly fewer airplanes , it can cut back on outgo of many types: rent, energy products used, and wages.

With reduced output, the company may be able to make an adequate profit by selling only to those who can afford the higher price. In all three instances, an attempt to fix corporate profits leads to a squeeze on human wages—the highest cost source of energy services that there is.

This seems to be Nature's attempt way of rebalancing the system, toward lower-cost energy sources. If we look at the other elements shown in Figure 1, we see that they have been under pressure recently as well. The availability of credit to fund new energy investment is enabled by profits that are sufficiently high that they can withstand interest charges incurred in the payback of debt.

Debt use is also enabled by growth, since if profits will be higher in the future, it makes sense to delay funding until the future. In recent years, central governments have seen a need to put interest rates at artificially low levels, in order to encourage borrowing. To me, this is a sign that the credit portion of the system is also under pressure. Government's ability to fund its own needs has been under severe stress as well.

Part of the problem comes from the inability of workers to pay adequate taxes, because their wages are lower. Part of the problem comes from a need for governments to pay out more in benefits, such as disability income, unemployment, and food stamps. The part that gets most stressed is the debt portion of government funding. This really represents the intersection of two different areas mentioned in Figure 1: 3 Adequacy of credit availability and 4 Funding for government services.

The constellation of energy problems we are now experiencing seems to me to be precisely what might be expected, if energy return is now, on average, already too low. When any energy producer decides to produce energy of a given type say oil or uranium , the energy producer will look for the resource that can be extracted at lowest cost to the producer. Initially, production starts where costs are most affordable—not much energy is required for extraction; governments involved do not require too high taxes; and the cost of human labor is not too high.

The producer may need debt financing, and this must also be available, at an affordable cost. For example, easy-to-extract oil located in the US that could be extracted very simply in the early days of extraction say before , was very inexpensive to extract, and would be near the top of the triangle.

Tight oil from the Bakken and bitumen from Canada would be examples of higher cost types of oil, located lower in the triangle. As the least expensive energy is extracted, later producers wishing to extract energy must often settle for higher cost extraction. In some cases, technology advancements can help bring costs back down again. In others, such as recent oil extraction, the higher costs are firmly in place. Higher sales prices available in the market place enable production "lower in the triangle.

Man has used external energy for a very long time, to raise his standard of living. Man started over 1,, years ago with the burning of biomass, to keep himself warm, to cook food, and for use in hunting. Gradually, man added other sources of energy. All of these sources of energy allowed man to accomplish more in a given day.

As a result of these greater accomplishments, man's standard of living rose—he could have clothes, food which had been cooked, sharper tools, and heat when it was cold. Over time, man added additional sources of energy, eventually including coal and oil. These additional sources of energy allowed man to leverage his own limited ability to do work, using his own energy.

Goods created using external energy tended to be less expensive than those made with only human energy, allowing prices to drop, and wages to go farther. Food became more available and cheaper, allowing population to rise. Money was also available for public health, allowing more babies to live to maturity.

What happened in the early s was a sharp "bend" in the system. Instead of goods becoming increasingly inexpensive, they started becoming relatively more expensive relative to the earnings of the common man. For example, the price of metals, used in many kinds of goods started becoming more expensive. Figure 5.

There seem to be two reasons for this: 1 In the early s, oil prices started rising Figure 2, above , and these higher prices started exerting an upward force on the price of goods. At the same time, 2 globalization took off, providing downward pressure on wages. The result was that suddenly, workers found it harder to keep a job, and even when they were working, wages were stagnant.

It seems to me that prior to the early s, part of what buoyed up the system was the large difference between:. The value of that barrel of oil to society as a whole, in terms of additional human productivity, and hence additional goods and services that barrel of oil could provide. As oil prices rose, this difference started disappearing, and its benefit to the world economy started going away.

The government became increasingly stressed, trying to provide for the many people without jobs while tax revenue lagged. Slower economic growth made the debt system increasingly fragile. The economy was gradually transformed from one which provided perpetual growth, to one where citizens were becoming poorer and poorer.

This pushed the economy in the direction of collapse. Research documented in the book Secular Cycles by Turchin and Nefedov shows that in past collapses, the inability of governments to collect sufficient taxes from populations that were becoming increasingly poor due to more population relative to resources was a primary contributing factor in these collapses.

The problems that the US and other developed countries are having in collecting enough taxes to balance their budgets, without continuing to add debt, are documentation that this issue is again a problem today. Greece and Spain are having particular problems in this regard. My original list was 1. Energy counted in EROI calculation—mostly fossil fuels, sometimes biomass used as a fuel 2.

Human labor 3. Credit system 4. Cost of government. To this we probably need to add: 1. Profits for corporations involved in these processes 2. Rent for land used in the process — this cost would be highest in biofuel operations. Costs to prevent pollution, and mitigate its effects — not charged currently, except as mandated by law 4. Compensation for mineral depletion and degradation of soil. Degradation of soil would likely be an issue for biofuels.

Energy not counted in EROI calculations. This is mostly "free energy" such as solar, wind, and wave energy, but can include energy which is of limited quantity, such as biomass energy. Given the diversity of items in this list, it is not clear that simply keeping EROI above some specified target such as is likely to provide enough "margin" to cover the financial return needed to properly fund all of these elements.

Also, because the need for government services tends to increase over time as the system gets more stressed, if there is an EROI threshold, it needs to increase over time. It might also be noted that the amounts paid for government services are surprisingly high for fossil fuels.

Barry Rodgers gave some figures regarding "government take" including lease fees as well as other taxes and fees in the May Oil and Gas Journal. If we are to leave fossil fuels, we would need to get along without the government services funded by these fees, or we would need to find a different source of government funding. To my knowledge, no one has directly proven that a threshold is sufficient for an energy source to be helpful to an economy.

Free for download , by Charles A. Hall, Steven Balogh, and David Murphy. This paper analyzes how much energy needs to provided by oil and coal, if the energy provided by those fuels is to be sufficient to pay not just for the energy used in its own extraction, but also for the energy required for pipeline and truck or train transportation to its destination of use.

The conclusion of that paper was that in order to include these energy transportation costs for oil or coal, an EROI of at least was needed. Clearly this figure is not high enough to cover all costs of using the fuels, including the energy costs to build devices that actually use the fuels, such as private passenger cars, electrical power plants and transmission lines, and devices to use electricity, such as refrigerators.

The ratio required would probably need to be higher for harder-to-transport fuels, such as natural gas and ethanol. The ratio would also need to include the energy cost of schools, if there are to be engineers to design all of these devices, and factory workers who can read basic instructions. If the cost of government in general were added, the cost would be higher yet.

One could theoretically add other systems as well, such as the cost of maintaining the financial system. The way I understood the ratio was that it was more or less a lower bound, below which even looking at an energy product did not make sense. Given the diversity of what is needed to support the current economy, the small increment between 3 and 5 is probably not enough—the minimum ratio probably needs to be much higher.

The ratio also seems to need to change for different fuels, with many quite a bit higher. With renewables made using fossil fuels, such as hydroelectric, wind turbines, solar PV, and ethanol, the only way anyone can calculate EROI factors is as add-ons to our current fossil fuel system. These renewables depend on the fossil fuel system for their initial manufacture, for their maintenance, and for the upkeep of all the systems that allow the economy to function.

There is no way that these fuels can power the whole system, based on what we know today, within the next hundred years. Thus, any EROI factor is misleading if viewed as the possibility what might happen if these fuels were to attempt to operate on a stand-alone basis.

The system simply wouldn't work—it would collapse. A related issue is the front-ended nature of the fossil fuels used in creating most of today's renewables. People today think of "financing" any new investment, with easy payments over a period of years. Nature demands up-front payment in terms of any fossil fuels used. Thus, if we build a huge new hydroelectric dam, such as the Three Gorges Dam in China, the fossil fuels required to make the concrete and to move huge amounts of soil come at the beginning of the project.

This is also true if we make a huge number of solar panels. The saving we get are all only theoretical, and will take place only if we are actually able reduce the use of other fossil fuel energy sources in the future, because of the energy from the PV panels or other new renewable. In nearly all cases, adding renewables requires increasing fossil fuel use for this reason. We could, in theory, reduce fossil fuel use elsewhere, to try to cover the greater fossil fuel use to add renewables, but this would mean cutting industries and jobs currently using the fuel, something that many find objectionable.

Several readers have suggested that we could greatly ramp-up solar PV. Yes, we could, but we would have to greatly ramp up fossil fuel usage mostly coal in China, if current manufacturing approaches are used to create these panels. Any future savings would be theoretical, depending on how long we keep the new system operating, and how much fossil fuel energy consumption is actually reduced as a result of the new panels.

At this point, the foregoing analysis suggests that products created using today's oil and other energy products are not producing an adequate financial return to cover wages, interest expense, and necessary taxes. It is convenient to think that an economy can keep adding lower and lower EROI resources, but at some point, a "stop" signal starts appearing. I would argue that the issues we are seeing in many sectors of the economy are clear indicators that such a threshold is already being reached.

An economy in which the wages of the common worker are buying less and less is an economy in trouble. I talk in another post Energy and the Economy—Basic Principles and Feedback Loops about the fact that economic growth seems to be the result of one set of feedbacks. As the price of oil rises and related changes take place, these feedbacks change from economic growth to economic contraction.

It is these feedbacks that we are already having problems with. One can argue that EROI has nothing to do with these issues. But if this is the case, what is the point it analyzing it in the first place? We clearly need to understand when an economy is giving us "stop" signals with respect to increasingly low quality energy inputs.

If EROI is not helpful in this regard, perhaps we need to be looking at other indicators. People will always be trading goods and services, and converting the "cost" of goods to a common denominator--whether it is bushels of wheat or US dollars. People did this 5, years ago, with accounts kept on tablets of clay.

What will change is the proportion of goods coming available from "promises" in advance--I will work for 40 years, and you will promise to pay me a pension when I turn These promises just don't work. If things are going downhill quickly, a high interest rate is needed to make such a loan viable.

Another thing that will change is the extent of International trade. There will be an increasing number of local currencies, that are not really convertible internationally, because things are changing quickly. These will include countries like Syria and Egypt, with internal conflict situations, or Greece and Spain with changing financial situations.

Countries will tend to set up bilateral trade agreements with trusted friends, rather than "just anyone". What will change is the ability of any kind of currency to "hold value" over time. Even if I own gold, it will buy fewer and fewer bushels of wheat, because society's ability to grow bushels of wheat is declining over time. Money of any kind that is saved for the future will be worth less and less over time.

So I guess it is a matter of definition. New systems will be much different, and much more limited. A lot of small currencies will decrease the need to move. Currency value will be adjusted so that it is cheaper to manufacture goods in a country with demand for imported goods.

I find this entire blog to be of very little practical use because it discusses absolute returns and not rate of return. An oil sands operation could have an EROI of As someone who has made my share of pitches for project investment, I can promise that no financial investor would give you the time of day if you told him the absolute return without knowing the rate return i.

The principles are exactly the same here, and we need to start talking the right language if we are going to start understanding these issues properly. Sorry Gail, other than that, thank you very much for your effort with TOD over the years. The fact that EROI ignores timing is a major deficiency of this measure in my view. Early oil was pulled out, almost as investment was made.

Intermittent renewables usually require huge up-front investments, which as you point out, is very different. This is an apples to oranges comparison. There are major differences in types of energy as well. Intermittent electricity is not equivalent to "dispatchable" electricity, which is not equivalent to coal energy.

These differences, plus "boundary issues" make comparisons from one type of energy to another very difficult. Thanks, and thanks for not taking it personally! I agree with you on the other 2 points as well but I tend to see them as rather fudgy problems that can always be improved upon but never perfectly solved, whereas rate versus absolute returns is a relatively easy problem to solve and absolutely fundamental to understanding how useful energy can flow to society. It is easy not to take it personally, because EROI is not my subject.

I got drawn into it because others are using the measure. I agree this is necessary if one is to maintain one's current economic level. In my case, I intentionally crashed my personal energy economy and created a new base to work from. The modular nature of PV allowed me to build up a new energy economic system over time new growth along a different path while making more investments in types of efficiency that don't sacrifice resilience, both in infrastructure and in our behavior.

Why I agree this is unlikely to work at scale:. I couldn't have done this without the macro, mostly fossil fuel based economy. My choices would have been much more primitive. Our current economy spawned the choices available. I began planning and implementation ahead of the affective decline curve.

I chose to divest in previous investments; emphasis on choice. The only people I had to convince were my immediate family tribe who were fully on board with the idea that I could, and would, accomplish my objectives; unity of purpose. They, too, gained a willingness to invest, and had time to reset their own expectations.

They became convinced that the path I set was beneficial, if not necessary over time. This simply doesn't work at scale. Too many widely varying objectives; too many well-established competing investments limit the efficiency of process; our collective decision-making processes are inefficient and dysfunctional political stalemate. Far too much denial and delusion begets inefficiencies that hinder affordability.

Our current economies are largely waste-based. When the EROI is large, that means that producing energy from that source is relatively easy and cost-effective. However, when the number is small, obtaining energy from that source is difficult and expensive.

For example, when the ratio is 1, there is no return on energy invested. According to the World Nuclear Association, the break-even number is 7. In its simplest form, EROI is calculated as:. However, there are dramatic differences in how certain steps of the input process are measured.

This measurement is complex because the inputs are diverse and there is uncertainty as to how far back they should be taken in the analysis. In addition to energy costs, there are other external costs that need to be considered with respect to energy production such as those associated with the environment and people's health.

Generally, we can expect that the highest available EROI energy sources will be used first because these offer the most energy for the least effort. A net energy gain is achieved by expending less energy when attempting to acquire and use a source of energy. EROI analysis is considered part of a life-cycle analysis. There are a number of consumable energy sources where EROI is determined for efficiency and cost analysis. These energy sources include oil, biofuels, geothermal energy, nuclear fuels, coal, solar, wind, and hydroelectric.

The Association cites a study by Weissback et al. According to the U. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas, have been the major sources of energy since the late s. Until the s, hydropower and solid biomass were the most used renewable energy resources. Since then, the amount of energy coming from biofuels, solar, and wind energy has increased.

The EROI for oil has decreased dramatically over the past hundred years. The amount of energy required to produce one barrel of oil has decreased as more efficient methods, such as fracking , have been introduced. Socially Responsible Investing. Company News. Sustainable Investing. Your Money. Personal Finance. Your Practice.

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Most businesses rely stands Zoom in very good stead. It can be export my database closed for security. Because this can something in our to access your small amount of to give access fall back to.

This energy return on investment EROI , the ratio of the energy delivered by a process to the energy used directly and indirectly in that process, is part of life-cycle analysis LCA. Since any energy costs money to buy or harvest, EROI is not divorced from economics. An EROI of about 7 is considered break-even economically for developed countries, providing enough surplus energy output to sustain a complex socioeconomic system.

Analysing this energy balance between inputs and outputs, however, is complex because the inputs are diverse, and it is not always clear how far back they should be taken in any analysis. For instance, oil expended to move coal to a power station, or electricity used to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel, are generally included in the calculations. But what about the energy required to build the train or the enrichment plant? And can the electricity consumed during uranium enrichment be compared with the fossil fuel needed for the train?

Many analyses convert kilowatt-hours kWh to kilojoules kJ , or vice versa, in which assumptions must be made about the thermal efficiency of the electricity production. Some inputs are easily quantified, such as the energy required to produce a tonne of uranium oxide concentrate at a particular mine, or to produce a tonne of particular grade of UF 6 at a uranium enrichment plant.

Similarly, the energy required to move a tonne of coal by ship or rail can be identified, although this will vary considerably depending on the location of the mine and the power plant. Moving gas long distances by pipeline is surprisingly energy-intensive. Several studies which include gas take LNG shipment to Japan as the norm. Other inputs are less straightforward such as the energy required to build a MWe power plant of a particular kind, or even to construct and erect a wind turbine.

But all such energy inputs, as with cash inputs by way of capital, need to be amortised over the life of the plant and added to the operational inputs. Also the post-operational energy requirements for waste management and decommissioning plants must be included. As well as energy costs, there are external costs to be considered, those environmental and health consequences of energy production which do not appear in the financial accounts.

Recent studies have plausibly quantified them in financial terms, and there is comment on those at the end. Many energy analysis studies done in the s seem to have assumed that a rapid expansion of nuclear generating capacity would lead to a temporary net energy deficit in an overall system sense.

However, this requires dynamic analysis of whole systems, and is not considered here. Studies were also driven by a perception that primary energy sources including uranium would become increasingly difficult and expensive to recover, and would thus require undue amounts of energy to access them.

This notion has since resurfaced, despite being demonstrably wrong for any plausible scenarios. The figures in Table 1 are based as far as possible on current assumptions and data for enrichment, mining and milling, etc. For nuclear power, enrichment was clearly the key energy input historically where the older diffusion technology was used — it comprised more than half the lifetime total.

However, with centrifuge technology now universally used it is far less significant than plant construction. There was an overall threefold difference in energy ratio between these two past and present nuclear fuel cycle options. It is also important to recognise that precise energy figures for plant construction are not readily available, although several studies use a factor converting monetary inputs to energy.

Peterson et al have presented materials figures for four reactor types:. The figures now in Table 1 for plant construction and operation, and also for decommissioning, are from Weissbach et al adjusted for 1 GWe. Hence our EROI is 70, compared with in that study. The only data available for storage and disposal of radioactive wastes, notably spent fuel, suggests that this is a minor contribution to the energy picture.

This is borne out by personal observation in several countries — spent fuel sitting quietly in pool storage or underground is not consuming much energy. Decommissioning energy requirements may be considered with wastes, or as Vattenfall with plant construction.

These figures compare with inputs of 6. Table 1: Life-cycle energy requirements for a MWe nuclear power plant. Mining: Ranger ore in was 0. Note that if ore of 0. All Ranger inputs are thermal it generates own electricity. Other figures for front end: Cameco mines in Saskatchewan input 41 TJ per t U 3 O 8 over including some capital works. Urenco enrichment at Capenhurst input Weissbach has 9. Using data from Peterson et al as in text above, 2. Energy payback time. Voss has 3 months. Construction time for nuclear plants is years.

These figures show that energy ratios are clearly sensitive not only to the amount of energy used, but also to capacity factors, particularly where there are significant energy inputs to plant. Just as with cash inputs to plant construction, the higher the input cost in consruction the more output is needed to amortise it. With technologies such as wind, this is inevitably spread over a longer period due to lower capacity factors.

The LNG figures quoted are for natural gas compressed cryogenically and shipped to Japan and used largely for peak loads. Unlike some others in use, the R3 energy ratio converts between electrical and thermal energy, including a thermal efficiency factor. Nevertheless the reciprocal percentage seems more meaningful. Uchiyama points out that hydro, nuclear and fossil fuel plants have high energy ratios because of their higher energy density as well as capacity factors.

Wind and solar, however, are under 10 because of their lower energy density. Vattenfall mentions that the production of pure silicon for solar photovoltaics PV requires large energy inputs and accounts for most resource consumption in solar cell manufacture. It is noteworthy that for all present energy options EROI includes the full fuel cycle, but imputes no energy value to what may be intrinsic in the fuel.

In contrast, at this stage energy return figures for nuclear fusion relate only to the energy input to the fusion process relative to what the device yields. The objective is for this yield to become significantly positive. A principal concern of life-cycle analysis for energy systems today is their likely contribution to global warming.

This is a major external cost. If all energy inputs are assumed to be from coal-fired plants, at about one tonne of carbon dioxide per MWh, it is possible to derive a greenhouse contribution from the energy ratio. With major inputs, this is worth investigating further. This is consistent with other figures based on fossil fuel inputs.

The ExternE study attempted to provide an expert assessment of life-cycle external costs for Europe including greenhouse gases, other pollution and accident potential. The European Commission launched the project in in collaboration with the US Dept of Energy which subsequently dropped out , and it was the first research project of its kind "to put plausible financial figures against damage resulting from different forms of electricity production for the entire EU.

The external costs are defined as those actually incurred in relation to health and the environment and quantifiable but not built into the cost of the electricity to the consumer and therefore which are borne by society at large. They include particularly the effects of air pollution on human health, crop yields and buildings, as well as occupational disease and accidents. In ExternE they exclude effects on ecosystems and the impact of global warming, which could not adequately be quantified and evaluated economically.

The methodology measures emissions, their dispersion and ultimate impact. With nuclear energy the low risk of accidents is factored in along with high estimates of radiological impacts from mine tailings and carbon emissions from reprocessing waste management and decommissioning being already within the cost to the consumer.

The report shows that in clear cash terms nuclear energy incurs about one tenth of the costs of coal. This is because all waste costs in the nuclear fuel cycle are internalised, which reduces the competitiveness of nuclear power when only internal costs are considered. The external costs of nuclear energy averages 0. These particular estimates are without attempting to include possible impacts of fossil fuels on global warming.

See also ExternE website. Adding further confirmation to figures already published from Scandinavia, Japan's Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry has published life-cycle carbon dioxide emission figures for various generation technologies. Vattenfall has published a popular account of life-cycle studies based on the previous few years experience and its certified environmental product declarations EPDs for Forsmark and Ringhals nuclear power stations in Sweden, and Kivisto in reports a similar exercise for Finland.

They show the following CO 2 emissions:. As noted earlier, Vattenfall's most recent EPD shows life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions for Forsmark of 3. The figure for British Energy's Torness nuclear power plant in was 5. For a further and unrelated critique see University of Sydney-based discussion and more specifically, the rebuttal of Storm van Leeuwan on the nuclearinfo. These mines report their energy use as 0. However, when the number is small, obtaining energy from that source is difficult and expensive.

For example, when the ratio is 1, there is no return on energy invested. According to the World Nuclear Association, the break-even number is 7. In its simplest form, EROI is calculated as:. However, there are dramatic differences in how certain steps of the input process are measured. This measurement is complex because the inputs are diverse and there is uncertainty as to how far back they should be taken in the analysis. In addition to energy costs, there are other external costs that need to be considered with respect to energy production such as those associated with the environment and people's health.

Generally, we can expect that the highest available EROI energy sources will be used first because these offer the most energy for the least effort. A net energy gain is achieved by expending less energy when attempting to acquire and use a source of energy. EROI analysis is considered part of a life-cycle analysis. There are a number of consumable energy sources where EROI is determined for efficiency and cost analysis.

These energy sources include oil, biofuels, geothermal energy, nuclear fuels, coal, solar, wind, and hydroelectric. The Association cites a study by Weissback et al. According to the U. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas, have been the major sources of energy since the late s. Until the s, hydropower and solid biomass were the most used renewable energy resources.

Since then, the amount of energy coming from biofuels, solar, and wind energy has increased. The EROI for oil has decreased dramatically over the past hundred years. The amount of energy required to produce one barrel of oil has decreased as more efficient methods, such as fracking , have been introduced.

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