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Confusion about EROI might have the same source: special interests. The "energetic" inertia as well.

Counting EROI as a fraction of the Net Energy Yield is like counting debt as a fraction of GDP. Both fractions look great when the denominator is large. But then oops happens...

... we could have access to almost limitless amounts of carbon-free electricity if we felt like it.

... we are absolutely dependent on a process with an EROI of 0.3-0.4, namely the combustion of fuels to make electricity. I don't think anyone argues we should stop that, despite the low EROI...

So are we free to do what we "feel like it", or are we "absolutely dependent"?

Any process with EROI < 1 is a part of metabolism, not the input. The question is: can we grow when the input starts to stagnate or decrease?

by das monde on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 06:13:14 AM EST
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Confusion about EROI might have the same source: special interests.

I'd rather avoid the conspiratorial thinking, especially as a friend of mine has written a paper about this very thing.

So are we free to do what we "feel like it", or are we "absolutely dependent"?

We are absolutely dependent on electricity generation, and free to expand it as much as we feel like. There isn't really any practical limits on how much wind, solar and nuclear electricity we could generate, if we decided to.

Any process with EROI < 1 is a part of metabolism, not the input.

Still, this doesn't help the policy-maker at all. Should we exploit that 0.5 EROI oil-field or not? Sure, let's just call it metabolism then. Who cares what we call it when it still gives us a valuable product which can be sold for more than the cost of production and gives us a nice margin at our current cost of capital?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 06:26:06 AM EST
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I'd rather avoid the conspiratorial thinking...

It is basically clear by now that "conspiracy" runs the politics and makes economic decisions - without any effective opposition. There is more brainwashing on more crucial political and economic issues - why would energetic issues be exempt?

by das monde on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 06:40:43 AM EST
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"Conspiracy theory" mostly is the cover academia uses to avoid having to look at a reality that they cannot challenge while retaining their positions, a la Sinclair Lewis. It is a band-aid over wounds to personal integrity. There are certifiable nuts who indeed espouse insane conspiracy theories, but the term is grossly overused and over applied - under the cover of suborned Academia.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 11:54:57 AM EST
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Conspiracy theory is when we look at the fact that the establishment institutions reproduce the status quo and assume it has to be the conscious and deliberate work of some small group of powerful and influential men deliberating in some secret hidden meeting that decides everything.

When we look at the work and conclude that powerful vested interests work to maintain their position, and since they became powerful vested interests in the contest of the current established status quo, that normally tends to reproduce that same established status quo ... that's no conspiracy theory, its normal social science.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 11:26:19 PM EST
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Yes, comparing the net energy yield to GDP is a useful comparison.

The other way to write (EROI-1)/EROI (the simplest way to compute it on a hand or simulated hand calculator, since you can subtract 1 in your head) is 1-(1/EROI), which actually makes it clearer what it consists of.

1/EROI is the input energy relative to the output energy, equivalent to depreciation.

So 1-(1/EROI) is basically a steady state energy yield, energy output after returning energy consumed in energy production back to the energy production system.

Just looking at energy output from various energy producing systems has the same flaw as just looking at GDP and assuming that changes in GDP tells us about changes in standard of living, since both explicitly accounted for depreciation and also the hidden depreciation of shifted and hidden costs of production means that the Real Net Domestic Product can be declining even as the GDP is rising, if the rise in GDP is at the cost of an even greater increase in hidden or shifted costs of production.

On any reasonable value of the benefits to us of the ecosystem support services provided by a hectare of rain forest, biodiesel palm oil plantations in Indonesia planted through destruction of the rain forest is an example of a contribution to Indonesia's GDP that is a net subtraction from Real global NDP, so any subsidies that encourage that production would be global acts of vandalism.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 09:32:06 AM EST
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