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The Energy Trap | Do the Math
Another great posting from Tom Murphy's DoTheMath blog.
Unfortunately, not much activity since 2015 except for the eclipse.

"In its early days, oil frequently yielded an EROEI (Energy Return over Energy In) in excess of 100:1, meaning that 1% or less of the energy contained in a barrel of oil had to be expended to deliver that barrel of oil. Not a bad bargain. Oil production today more typically has an EROEI around 20:1, while tar sands and oil shale tend to be about 5:1 and 3:1, respectively. By contrast, it is debatable whether corn ethanol exceeds break-even: it may optimistically be as high as 1.4:1. ... Other approaches to biofuels, like sugar cane ethanol, can have EROEI as high as 8:1.

"... coal typically has an EROEI around 50–85:1, and natural gas tends to come in around 20–40:1, though falling below the lower end of this range as the easy fields are depleted. Meanwhile, solar photovoltaics are estimated to require 3–4 years’ worth of energy output to fabricate, including the frames and associated electronics systems. Assuming a 30–40 year lifetime, this translates into an EROEI around 10:1. Wind is estimated to have EROEI around 20:1, and new nuclear installations are expected to come in at approximately 15:1. These are all positive net-energy approaches, which is the good news.

"... solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind, and nuclear, are all ways to make electricity, but these do not help us very much as a direct replacement of the first-to-fail fossil fuel: oil.

"... the Energy Trap is a generic consequence of modest-EROEI sources requiring substantial up-front investment in energy. We would need the EROEI to be equal to the resource lifetime in order to have a null effect during the decline years, or better than this to ease the pain or allow growth. For a 40 year lifetime (e.g., power plant, solar panels, wind turbines), this means we would need 40:1 EROEI or better to avoid the trap. Our alternatives simply don’t measure up. Curses!"
energy  oil  solar  wind  alternative-energy  peak-oil  environment  nuclear  hydrocarbons  conservation  global-warming 
november 2017 by Tonti
A green economy is possible, but at what cost?
The problem with renewables lies not in capability, but in low productivity
enviro-compute  electricity-cars  alternative-energy 
july 2017 by nathanen
The future of energy – opportunities and challenges - Energy Factor
Trump denies climate change & trashes enviro regs, even while ExxonMobil supports Paris climate accord & carbon tax
alternative-energy  environment  fossil-fuels  economics 
march 2017 by famous
Clinton says the 'clean energy economy' will create millions of jobs. Can it?
Will government policy to promote clean energy be disastrous or a boon? A close look at the 2009 stimulus, which plowed $90 billion into energy, can tell us a lot.
enviro-compute  alternative-energy  electricity 
october 2016 by nathanen
This Mojave Desert solar plant kills 6,000 birds a year. Here's why that won't change any time soon - LA Times
The Ivanpah Solar Plant in San Bernardino county is killing thousands of birds, blasting them into wisps of smoke against the sky that plant workers call
energy-use  alternative-energy  environment 
september 2016 by nathanen

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