* 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.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ERoEI* Redux

I just wrote the following to a detractor on the Energy Resources Yahoo! group who imagined that I must be just like every other advocate of left-wing politics he has encountered.  I am not like that at all.  In fact, the idea of a dictatorship of the proletariat makes me rather uncomfortable.  Perhaps, a dictatorship of the precariat ... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/noam-chomsky/plutonomy-and-the-precari_b_1499246.html.

Hey, Howard, don't shoot the messenger.  I shall suffer as much as you if market economics is abandoned.  Markets have been very, very good to me.  That said, I believe you are missing the principal point.  

The Autonomous Alternative Energy District (AAED) is obviously a very good concept to employ in a thought experiment. The society we live in can be very readily analyzed changing whatever needs to be changed in the AAED; but, the AAED is much simpler.  So, to be definite, let's imagine a USA completely dependent upon shale oil and gas with no other energy technology employed whatever.  Moreover, it is recognized that the nation can barely produce enough to support itself with nothing left to export except, possibly, energy in the form of shale oil and gas itself or electrical energy over power lines to our near neighbors.  Immigration is banned and the population is otherwise stable with no imported goods affecting our standards of living. The nation is isolated, then, except for the export of energy, if there is any.

The nation then either continues with things pretty much as they were during the conventional petroleum era or not. If the standard of living declines year after year until famine begins, it must be because the ERoEI* of shale oil and gas is less than 1.0 FOR THAT TYPE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY even without an attempt to achieve sustainability.   If society manages to run on an even keel but is not quite able to achieve sustainability, again it is because ERoEI* < 1.0 for that type of political economy.  Clearly, each type of political economy will have certain activities that must be carried out, each with its associated energy costs.  If society manages to run sustainably at  steady state and exports some electrical power to Canada, say, then ERoEI* is greater than 1.0 for that type of political economy, which society is free to accept or reject purely on moral grounds.

[Clearly, I am assuming that conservation has been carried out as far as can be expected and that the citizens cooperate voluntarily with the possible exception of a very few sociopaths. We might say that whatever society is doing to enhance ERoEI* is normal; and, therefore, it may be incorporated into the definition of ERoEI* just as the efficiency of the manufacturing process was incorporated into the definition of emergy.]

I hope that is helpful.

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