* To establish feasibility, it is necessary to include some items in the energy invested term that are normally not thought of as investments. For example, the cost of sequestering such carbon dioxide as will be produced by the energy technology under investigation should be added to the energy invested term because feasibility requires that our society be sustainable (until astronomical events intervene). In this thought experiment, the support of an alternative energy technology would be the sole concern of every citizen.

Friday, November 30, 2012

On ERoEI as a Measure of Feasibility

Currently, I am trying to convince Charles Hall, Tom Robertson, and the rest of the world that I have solved the problem of computing the ratio of energy returned to energy invested, i. e., ER/EI or ERoEI or EROI, depending upon who is writing the term. My latest effort to state the solution concisely is posted at http://dematerialism.net/eroistar.htm, which has hyperlinks to longer discussions elsewhere. The notion of the autonomous alternative energy district (AAED) originated in a section of “Energy in a Mark II Economy” that was posted at http://dematerialism.net/remarks.htm. In “Energy in a Mark II Economy”, I computed a series of subscripted ERoEIs beginning with the direct production expenses of the manufacturer in the energy-invested term and with each successive ERoEIi including more components. The last is very close to the composition of the energy-invested term for ERoEI* in the AAED that determines feasibility. (Overwhelming sentiment dictated that I change EROI back to EROEI or ERoEI – regardless of the similarity of that term to EIEIO in the lyrics of Old MacDonald’s Farm.)

Note. Actually, energy returned might be confused with net energy returned, denoted ER – EI in my papers except for http://dematerialism.net/emergyunit.htm; therefore, we should be referring to the energy produced. Also, and this is more important, in http://dematerialism.net/emergyunit.htm, I defined EROI so that it is the same as EROI - 1 in http://dematerialism.net/Mark-II-EROI.html and http://dematerialism.net/Mark-II-Balance.html.

In a community that can subsidize a renewable energy technology with fossil fuel, it is especially important to use ERoEI* as discussed at http://dematerialism.net/eroistar.htm because the lifestyles of the participants can be supported by fossil fuel. Thus, the alternative energy technology might be able to produce energy, but the total amount of fossil fuel used by the community would be increased rather than diminished. And, no one might ever know.

Before I ask you to read “ERoEI* as a Measure of Feasibility” copied from http://dematerialism.net/eroistar.htm (with EROI changed to ERoEI), I need to emphasize a few key points:

· One of the correspondents claimed that ERoEI does not account for quality or convenience. That is not true, provided that transformity is applied to the final product accounting for quality and for time and place of production to compute the emergy of the product in terms of a well-defined standard as I have done in my papers on emergy and ERoEI. It is essential to combine emergy analysis with the computation of ERoEI to determine the feasibility and sustainability of the process under investigation.

· The price of energy should reflect the cost of preventing or repairing any changes to the environment that diminish the quality of life of mankind and other species or that compromise the sustainability of the relevant ecosystems including the magnitude of the storehouses of natural resources. The quality of life depends upon aesthetics as well as pure material circumstances.

· The energy-invested term should have an energy contribution corresponding to every monetary item that affects the price even if this reduces ERoEI* to less than 1.0. Research should continue until technologies with ERoEI* greater than 1.0 are found. This approach is mathematically rigorous as opposed to other approaches that merely state that an ERoEI must be greater than some unsupported number such as 3.0 to support the operations of civilization.

Revised April 29, 2011 and December 6, 2012

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