sustainability - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

sustainability - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

sustainability - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

421 Pages ·2012·10.83 MB ·English

sustainability - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

sustainability


Special Issue


New Studies in EROI


(Energy Return on Investment)


2011


Charles A.S. Hall and Doug Hansen (Eds.)


MDPI


OPEN ACCESS ExternalEditors EditorialOffice


Editor-in-Chief MDPIAG


Prof. Dr. MarcA.Rosen Kandererstrasse25


FacultyofEngineeringandAppliedScience Basel,Switzerland


UniversityofOntarioInstituteofTechnology Phone: +41616837734


2000SimcoeStreetNorth Website: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/


Oshawa,Ontario,L1H7K4,Canada E-Mail: sustainability@mdpi.com


Phone: +19057218668,ext5726


Fax: +19057213370 Publisher


Website: http://www.engineering.uoit.ca/ Dr. Shu-KunLin


people/rosen


E-Mail: marc.rosen@uoit.ca ProductionEditor


Dr. BriettaPike


GuestEditor


Prof. Dr. CharlesA.S.Hall ManagingEditor


FacultyofEnvironmental&ForestBiology Dr. JoseA.F.Monteiro


CollegeofEnvironmentalScience&Forestry


StateUniversityofNewYork


354IllickHall


1ForestryDrive


Syracuse,NewYork13210,USA


Phone: +13154706870


Fax: +13154706934


Website:http://www.esf.edu/EFB/hall/


E-Mail: chall@esf.edu


AssociateEditor


Mr. DougHansen


HansenFinancialManagement


12717MontereyCypressWay


SanDiego,CA92130,USA


E-Mail: doug6636@gmail.com


Coverpicture:


Ekofisk oil field in the Norwegian sector of


theNorthSea.


Author: unknown


Availableonlineat:


no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Ekofisk complex.jpg


ISBN:3-906980-31-6 Table of Contents


Part I: Conceptual Issues


Editorial


IntroductiontoSpecialIssueonNewStudiesinEROI(EnergyReturnonInvest-


ment)


CharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1773-1777;doi:10.3390/su3101773 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2


Article


OrderfromChaos: APreliminaryProtocolforDeterminingtheEROIofFuels


DavidJ.Murphy,CharlesA.S.Hall,MichaelDaleandCutlerCleveland,


Sustainability2011,3,1888-1907;doi:10.3390/su3101888 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


Review


AReviewofthePastandCurrentStateofEROIData


AjayK.GuptaandCharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1796-1809;doi:10.3390/su3101796 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27


Article


ADynamicFunctionforEnergyReturnonInvestment


MichaelDale,SusanKrumdieckandPatBodger,


Sustainability2011,3,1972-1985;doi:10.3390/su3101972 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41


Article


System Energy Assessment (SEA), Defining a Standard Measure of EROI for


EnergyBusinessesasWholeSystems


PhilipF.Henshaw,CareyKingandJayZarnikau,


Sustainability2011,3,1908-1943;doi:10.3390/su3101908 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Article


RelatingFinancialandEnergyReturnonInvestment


CareyW.KingandCharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1810-1832;doi:10.3390/su3101810 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Part II: EROI for Conventional Fossil Fuels


Article


ANew Long Term Assessmentof Energy Return on Investment (EROI)for U.S.


OilandGasDiscoveryandProduction


MeganC.Guilford,CharlesA.S.Hall,PeterO’ConnorandCutlerJ.Cleveland,


Sustainability2011,3,1866-1887;doi:10.3390/su3101866 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115


Article


EnergyReturnonInvestmentforNorwegianOilandGasfrom1991to2008


LeenaGrandell,CharlesA.S.HallandMikaelHo¨o¨k,


Sustainability2011,3,2050-2070;doi:10.3390/su3112050 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137


Article


Oil Depletion and the Energy Efficiency of Oil Production: The Case of Califor-


nia


AdamR.Brandt,


Sustainability2011,3,1833-1854;doi:10.3390/su3101833 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158


Article


Analysis of the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of the Huge Daqing Oil


FieldinChina


YanHu,LianyongFeng,CharlesC.S.HallandDongTian,


Sustainability2011,3,2323-2338;doi:10.3390/su3122323 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180


Article


TheEROIofConventionalCanadianNaturalGasProduction


JonFreise,


Sustainability2011,3,2080-2104;doi:10.3390/su3112080 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196


Article


EnergyReturnonEnergyInvestedforTightGasWellsintheAppalachianBasin,


UnitedStatesofAmerica


BryanSell,DavidMurphyandCharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1986-2008;doi:10.3390/su3101986 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221


Article


Ultra-Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas: Energy Return on Financial In-


vestmentandaPreliminaryAssessmentofEnergyReturnonEnergyInvestment


MatthewMoerschbaecherandJohnW.DayJr.,


Sustainability2011,3,2009-2026;doi:10.3390/su3102009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244


Part III: EROI for Other Fuels


Review


Seeking to Understand the Reasons for Different Energy Return on Investment


(EROI)EstimatesforBiofuels


CharlesA.S.Hall,BruceE.DaleandDavidPimentel,


Sustainability2011,3,2413-2432;doi:10.3390/su3122413 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263 Article


EnergyReturnonInvestment(EROI)ofOilShale


CutlerJ.ClevelandandPeterA.O’Connor,


Sustainability2011,3,2307-2322;doi:10.3390/su3112307 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283


Article


An Edible Energy Return on Investment (EEROI) Analysis of Wheat and Rice


inPakistan


AliS.PrachaandTimothyA.Volk,


Sustainability2011,3,2358-2391;doi:10.3390/su3122358 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299


Article


EnergyReturnonEnergyInvested(EROI)fortheElectricalHeatingofMethane


HydrateReservoirs


RobertoCesareCallarotti,


Sustainability2011,3,2105-2114;doi:10.3390/su3112105 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333


Part IV: Looking Forward


Article


Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion


andDecliningEnergyReturnonInvestment(EROI)


JessicaG.LambertandGailP.Lambert,


Sustainability2011,3,2129-2156;doi:10.3390/su3112129 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344


Article


Implications of Energy Return on Energy Invested on Future Total Energy De-


mand


ShinuoDengandGeorgeR.Tynan,


Sustainability2011,3,2433-2442;doi:10.3390/su3122433 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 372


Article


DerivinganImprovedDynamicEROItoProvideBetterInformationforEnergy


Planners


IoannisN.KessidesandDavidC.Wade,


Sustainability2011,3,2339-2357;doi:10.3390/su3122339 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 382


Article


Looking for a Silver Lining: The Possible Positives of Declining Energy Return


onInvestment(EROI)


JackP.Manno,


Sustainability2011,3,2071-2079;doi:10.3390/su3112071 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 401


Editorial


Synthesis to Special Issue on New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Invest-


ment)


CharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,2496-2499;doi:10.3390/su3122496 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410 Part I: Conceptual Issues ReprintedfromSustainability. Citeas: Hall,C.A.IntroductiontoSpecialIssueonNewStudiesinEROI


(EnergyReturnonInvestment)Sustainability2011,3,1773-1777;doi:10.3390/su3101773.


G


Sustainability 2011, 3, 1773-1777; doi:10.3390/su3101773


OPEN ACCESS


sustainability


ISSN 2071-1050


www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability


Editorial


Introduction to Special Issue on New Studies in EROI (Energy


Return on Investment)


Charles A.S. Hall


Departments of Environmental and Forest Biology and Environmental Studies, and Graduate Program


in Environmental Science, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New


York  Syracuse,  New  York,  NY  13210,  USA;  E-Mail:  chall@esf.edu;  Tel.:  +1-315-470-6870;


Fax: +1-315 470 6954


Received: 10 August 2011 / Accepted: 17 August 2011 / Published: 7 October 2011




Abstract: Energy Return on Investment (EROI) refers to how much energy is returned


from one unit of energy invested in an energy-producing activity. It is a critical parameter


for understanding and ranking different fuels. There were a number of studies on EROI


three decades ago but relatively little work since. Now there is a whole new interest in


EROI as fuels get increasingly expensive and as we attempt to weigh alternative energies


against traditional ones. This special volume brings together a whole series of high quality


new studies on EROI, as well as many papers that struggle with the meaning of changing


EROI and its impact on our economy. One overall conclusion is that the quality of fuels is


at least as important in our assessment as is the quantity. I argue that many of the


contemporary changes in our economy are related directly to changing EROI as our


premium fuels are increasingly depleted.


Keywords: energy; EROI; economic; fuels; quality of fuels




The concept of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) is a concept originally derived in ecology but


increasingly applied to oil and other industrial energies. It had precedents in the idea of “net energy


analysis” used by Leslie White, Kenneth Boulding and especially Howard Odum [1,2]. Similar but less


explicit and focused ideas can be found in the newer field of “life cycle analysis” that is better


developed in Europe than in the US. The word investment usually means energy investment but


sometimes may also include financial, environmental and/or other kinds of investments. Some people


like the term EROEI as a more explicit term, but we find it less useful and harder to pronounce. The


term EROI has been around since at least 1970, but it gained relatively little traction until the last five 3


Sustainability 2011, 3                             G 1774




or ten years. Now there is an explosion of interest as peak oil and the general economic effects of


increasingly constrained energy supplies are becoming obvious to investigators from many fields. This


special issue examines various aspects of EROI with many exciting new studies from all around the


world. It is very special as there had been almost no new studies since the original studies of the 1970s


and 1980s and as the critical importance of the concept becomes ever more apparent as our highest


quality fuels are increasingly depleted.


There have been questions about the degree to which we should use EROI vs. more familiar ways


(e.g., price, financial return on financial investment in the oil business) to examine energy and other


resource choices. In addition there have been criticisms that EROI has some severe flaws: that


different studies give different answers to what appears to be the same question, that the boundaries of


the analysis are controversial, that market pricing is always superior to scientific studies, and that


EROI too often is dependent upon monetary data for its results. Explicit arguments for the virtues of


EROI are found in the Murphy et al. protocol paper in this issue [3]. Many other papers in this volume


take  on  these  issues  directly,  often  through  sensitivity  analysis,  and  we  believe  that  the  papers


collectively make the case that EROI is an incredibly robust, useful and interesting tool. While we


embrace “methodological pluralism”, that is different approaches to analysis, we favor EROI as the


most basic and useful kind of analysis for examining and perhaps determining our energy future


because, as developed by King and Hall in this issue, it ultimately determines the other ratios [4].


All of the papers in this special issue have been peer reviewed, usually very thoroughly, by


appropriate professionals. Several papers did not make it through the review process. Several of the


papers that did were nevertheless controversial, to say the least, and as editor of the whole issue I was


faced with several situations where I had both strongly positive and strongly negative reviews. In that


situation I sought additional reviewers, and generally received again mixed reviews. Where there were


a balanced number of positive and negative reviews I chose to publish the papers as I thought they


tended to be papers that I felt raised new and or important issues that later research is likely to sort out.


The issue is divided into four basic sections: Conceptual issues, EROI for Conventional fossil fuels,


EROI for other fuels, and looking forward.


In my opinion this is a remarkably important group of papers. While EROI has yet to gain global


popularity most of the contributors to this special issue would probably agree that few issues are likely


to be more important for the future of civilization, whatever that might be. For many of us the financial


crises that we have been experiencing since 2008 is a direct effect of the cessation of the growth of oil


(and even of all liquid fuels if done on an energy, not volume, basis) and of the general decline in


EROI. While this is not to discount the role of greed, corruption and mismanagement in all things


financial, nor the enormous shift in wealth to the upper few percent over the past several decades, at


the root of it all lies the decline in cheap, high EROI fuel that had once allowed the economy to do


more work. This has been especially important as the economy has been shifting to higher labor


productivity,  meaning  that  each  worker  generates  more  value  added  per  hour  working.  While


increasing labor productivity is normally perceived as a good thing higher productivity is usually


obtained by subsidizing each hour worked with increasing fossil fuel—in effect making each worker


more productive but each unit of energy less productive than otherwise because there is less labor


behind it! One result is that when Federal money is used to try to create jobs the money goes


increasingly to energy, even energy from overseas, rather than salaries.   4


Sustainability 2011, 3                             G 1775




The net effect of decreasing net energy supplies coupled with increasing labor productivity is that


10 to 20 percent of Americans have no job at all, a poorly paying job in the service sector, or work part


time. Incomes for the middle class have been stagnant at best for decades while the size of the middle


class shrinks. Many, perhaps most, new college graduates have had to greatly reduce their aspirations.


The stock market and real estate have become far less reliable ways to amass wealth. Some 46 of our


50 states and many of our municipalities face crippling budget deficits, and many colleges, pension


plans, charities and other institutions are operating with diminished funds or going bankrupt. It is


increasingly difficult to pay for the repair of storms and other environmental disasters. Even the United


States Government has seen its credit rating diminished. “Tea Partiers” seek to cut debt and the role of


government even while pole after pole shows the public does not want its health care or most other


benefits  cut.  Keynsian  deficit  spending  that  worked  in  the  past  and might  work  again  has few


advocates today because of crippling debt, nor is there the likelihood of future growth to repay any


such deficit spending because, unlike in 1946, the possibilities biophysical constraints make the


potential for sustained economic expansion seem very thin indeed. As individuals and as a nation we


have been living beyond our energy means for decades. We collectively do not know how to change


that situation because tax increases have become so unpopular even while such previously unheard of


programs as Medicare have become sacred. In earlier times the growth of the economic pie defused


arguments about how to cut it, but now the growth of the pie, constrained by the end of cheap energy


and the demise of energy growth, seems much less likely.


If the pie is no longer getting larger, indeed if because of energy constraints it can no longer get


larger, how will we slice it? This may force some ugly debates back into the public vision. Indeed if


EROI continues to decline then that will cut increasingly into discretionary spending (the engine for


economic growth) and we will need to ask some very hard questions about how we should spend our


money. One way to think about this is “Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs” [5]. This theory,


proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, proposes that


humans will attempt to meet their needs in more or less the following order: First they will meet their


physiological  needs,  which  are  the  literal  requirements  for  human  survival,  including  breathing,


nutrition, water, sleep, homeostasis, excretion and reproductive activity. Second, once physiological


needs are satisfied an individual will attempt to meet safety needs in an attempt to attain a predictable,


orderly world in which perceived unfairness and inconsistency are under control, the familiar frequent


and the unfamiliar rare. Third, once the above needs are met humans seek love and belonging, i.e.,


emotionally based relationships in general, such as friendship, intimacy and family. Fourth, again once


the above have been met humans seek esteem, to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect


and also the esteem of others. Finally, according to Maslow, people seek self-actualization, the need to


understand what a person’s full potential is and to realize that potential, to become everything that one


is capable of becoming—for example an ideal parent, athlete, painter, or inventor.


Such a hierarchy applies to our energy use. Think of a society dependent upon one resource: its


domestic oil. If the EROI for this oil was 1.1:1 then one could pump the oil out of the ground and look


at it. If it were 1.2:1 you could also refine it and look at it, 1.3:1 also distribute it to where you want to


use it but all you could do is look at it. Hall et al. 2008 examined the EROI required to actually run a


truck and found that if the energy included was enough to build and maintain the truck and the


roads and bridges required to use it (i.e., depreciation), one would need at least a 3:1 EROI at the   5


Sustainability 2011, 3                             G 1776




wellhead [6]. Now if you wanted to put something in the truck, say some grain, and deliver it that


would require an EROI of, say, 5:1 to grow the grain. If you wanted to include depreciation on the oil


field worker, the refinery worker, the truck driver and the farmer you would need an EROI of say 7 or


8:1 to support the families. If the children were to be educated you would need perhaps 9 or 10:1, have


health care 12:1, have arts in their life maybe 14:1 and so on. Obviously to have a modern civilization


one needs not simply surplus energy but lots of it, and that requires either a high EROI or a massive


source of moderate EROI fuels. As we watch the magnificent Syracuse Symphony and our equally


magnificent State University systems go broke we believe we are watching the beginning of the


decline of civilization driven by a declining EROI. If things get a lot tougher, as many think, the low


EROI energy that is available will go to growing food and supporting families. It is clear that we must


understand energy and its changes if we are to understand changes in our economy.


Maslow’s theory has been criticized from a number of angles including the supposed lack of


evidence that humans in fact follow that hierarchy, or indeed any such hierarchy, and from the


perspective that his “pyramids of needs” may be more representative of people from an individualist


vs. socialist society. Nevertheless his theory is broadly accepted in psychology and even marketing.


Our  own  research  on  the  implications  of  declining  net  energy,  while  not  consciously  based  on


Maslow’s theories, is consistent with them. We have the sense that discretionary spending will be


increasingly abandoned as humans attempt to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing [7].


Presumably as the amount of net energy declines due to peak oil and declining EROI, humans will


increasingly give up categories higher on the pyramids and concentrate increasingly on the more basic


requirements including food, shelter and clothing. What this may mean in modern society is that


performance art, then expensive vacations, then education, then health care would be abandoned by the


middle class as the economy is increasingly restricted. Whether this can be reversed by diverting


where and by whom we chose to spend such surplus money or energy as we have will be an


increasingly dominant challenge to society.


Acknowledgments


I thank all authors and reviewers for this special issue, and Ajay Gupta and Alexandre Poisson for


editorial help on this chapter.


Conflict of Interest


There are no conflicts of interest associated with this paper.


References and Notes


1.  Odum, H.T. Environment, Power and Society. Wiley Interscience: New York, NY, USA ,1973.


2.  Odum, H.T. Energy, ecology and economics. AMBIO 1973, 2, 220-227.


3.  Murphy, D.; Hall C.A.S., Dale M.; Cleveland, C. Order from chaos: A preliminary protocol for


determining EROI for fuels. Sustainability, in press.


4.  King,  C.;  Hall,  C.A.S.  Relating  financial  and  energy  return  on  investment.  Sustainability,


in press.


5.  Maslow, A. A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review 1943, 50, 370-396.


sustainability


Special Issue


New Studies in EROI


(Energy Return on Investment)


2011


Charles A.S. Hall and Doug Hansen (Eds.)


MDPI


OPEN ACCESS ExternalEditors EditorialOffice


Editor-in-Chief MDPIAG


Prof. Dr. MarcA.Rosen Kandererstrasse25


FacultyofEngineeringandAppliedScience Basel,Switzerland


UniversityofOntarioInstituteofTechnology Phone: +41616837734


2000SimcoeStreetNorth Website: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/


Oshawa,Ontario,L1H7K4,Canada E-Mail: sustainability@mdpi.com


Phone: +19057218668,ext5726


Fax: +19057213370 Publisher


Website: http://www.engineering.uoit.ca/ Dr. Shu-KunLin


people/rosen


E-Mail: marc.rosen@uoit.ca ProductionEditor


Dr. BriettaPike


GuestEditor


Prof. Dr. CharlesA.S.Hall ManagingEditor


FacultyofEnvironmental&ForestBiology Dr. JoseA.F.Monteiro


CollegeofEnvironmentalScience&Forestry


StateUniversityofNewYork


354IllickHall


1ForestryDrive


Syracuse,NewYork13210,USA


Phone: +13154706870


Fax: +13154706934


Website:http://www.esf.edu/EFB/hall/


E-Mail: chall@esf.edu


AssociateEditor


Mr. DougHansen


HansenFinancialManagement


12717MontereyCypressWay


SanDiego,CA92130,USA


E-Mail: doug6636@gmail.com


Coverpicture:


Ekofisk oil field in the Norwegian sector of


theNorthSea.


Author: unknown


Availableonlineat:


no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Ekofisk complex.jpg


ISBN:3-906980-31-6 Table of Contents


Part I: Conceptual Issues


Editorial


IntroductiontoSpecialIssueonNewStudiesinEROI(EnergyReturnonInvest-


ment)


CharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1773-1777;doi:10.3390/su3101773 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2


Article


OrderfromChaos: APreliminaryProtocolforDeterminingtheEROIofFuels


DavidJ.Murphy,CharlesA.S.Hall,MichaelDaleandCutlerCleveland,


Sustainability2011,3,1888-1907;doi:10.3390/su3101888 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


Review


AReviewofthePastandCurrentStateofEROIData


AjayK.GuptaandCharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1796-1809;doi:10.3390/su3101796 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27


Article


ADynamicFunctionforEnergyReturnonInvestment


MichaelDale,SusanKrumdieckandPatBodger,


Sustainability2011,3,1972-1985;doi:10.3390/su3101972 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41


Article


System Energy Assessment (SEA), Defining a Standard Measure of EROI for


EnergyBusinessesasWholeSystems


PhilipF.Henshaw,CareyKingandJayZarnikau,


Sustainability2011,3,1908-1943;doi:10.3390/su3101908 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Article


RelatingFinancialandEnergyReturnonInvestment


CareyW.KingandCharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1810-1832;doi:10.3390/su3101810 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Part II: EROI for Conventional Fossil Fuels


Article


ANew Long Term Assessmentof Energy Return on Investment (EROI)for U.S.


OilandGasDiscoveryandProduction


MeganC.Guilford,CharlesA.S.Hall,PeterO’ConnorandCutlerJ.Cleveland,


Sustainability2011,3,1866-1887;doi:10.3390/su3101866 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115


Article


EnergyReturnonInvestmentforNorwegianOilandGasfrom1991to2008


LeenaGrandell,CharlesA.S.HallandMikaelHo¨o¨k,


Sustainability2011,3,2050-2070;doi:10.3390/su3112050 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137


Article


Oil Depletion and the Energy Efficiency of Oil Production: The Case of Califor-


nia


AdamR.Brandt,


Sustainability2011,3,1833-1854;doi:10.3390/su3101833 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158


Article


Analysis of the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of the Huge Daqing Oil


FieldinChina


YanHu,LianyongFeng,CharlesC.S.HallandDongTian,


Sustainability2011,3,2323-2338;doi:10.3390/su3122323 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180


Article


TheEROIofConventionalCanadianNaturalGasProduction


JonFreise,


Sustainability2011,3,2080-2104;doi:10.3390/su3112080 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196


Article


EnergyReturnonEnergyInvestedforTightGasWellsintheAppalachianBasin,


UnitedStatesofAmerica


BryanSell,DavidMurphyandCharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,1986-2008;doi:10.3390/su3101986 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221


Article


Ultra-Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas: Energy Return on Financial In-


vestmentandaPreliminaryAssessmentofEnergyReturnonEnergyInvestment


MatthewMoerschbaecherandJohnW.DayJr.,


Sustainability2011,3,2009-2026;doi:10.3390/su3102009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244


Part III: EROI for Other Fuels


Review


Seeking to Understand the Reasons for Different Energy Return on Investment


(EROI)EstimatesforBiofuels


CharlesA.S.Hall,BruceE.DaleandDavidPimentel,


Sustainability2011,3,2413-2432;doi:10.3390/su3122413 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263 Article


EnergyReturnonInvestment(EROI)ofOilShale


CutlerJ.ClevelandandPeterA.O’Connor,


Sustainability2011,3,2307-2322;doi:10.3390/su3112307 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283


Article


An Edible Energy Return on Investment (EEROI) Analysis of Wheat and Rice


inPakistan


AliS.PrachaandTimothyA.Volk,


Sustainability2011,3,2358-2391;doi:10.3390/su3122358 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299


Article


EnergyReturnonEnergyInvested(EROI)fortheElectricalHeatingofMethane


HydrateReservoirs


RobertoCesareCallarotti,


Sustainability2011,3,2105-2114;doi:10.3390/su3112105 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333


Part IV: Looking Forward


Article


Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion


andDecliningEnergyReturnonInvestment(EROI)


JessicaG.LambertandGailP.Lambert,


Sustainability2011,3,2129-2156;doi:10.3390/su3112129 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344


Article


Implications of Energy Return on Energy Invested on Future Total Energy De-


mand


ShinuoDengandGeorgeR.Tynan,


Sustainability2011,3,2433-2442;doi:10.3390/su3122433 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 372


Article


DerivinganImprovedDynamicEROItoProvideBetterInformationforEnergy


Planners


IoannisN.KessidesandDavidC.Wade,


Sustainability2011,3,2339-2357;doi:10.3390/su3122339 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 382


Article


Looking for a Silver Lining: The Possible Positives of Declining Energy Return


onInvestment(EROI)


JackP.Manno,


Sustainability2011,3,2071-2079;doi:10.3390/su3112071 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 401


Editorial


Synthesis to Special Issue on New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Invest-


ment)


CharlesA.S.Hall,


Sustainability2011,3,2496-2499;doi:10.3390/su3122496 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410 Part I: Conceptual Issues ReprintedfromSustainability. Citeas: Hall,C.A.IntroductiontoSpecialIssueonNewStudiesinEROI


(EnergyReturnonInvestment)Sustainability2011,3,1773-1777;doi:10.3390/su3101773.


G


Sustainability 2011, 3, 1773-1777; doi:10.3390/su3101773


OPEN ACCESS


sustainability


ISSN 2071-1050


www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability


Editorial


Introduction to Special Issue on New Studies in EROI (Energy


Return on Investment)


Charles A.S. Hall


Departments of Environmental and Forest Biology and Environmental Studies, and Graduate Program


in Environmental Science, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New


York  Syracuse,  New  York,  NY  13210,  USA;  E-Mail:  chall@esf.edu;  Tel.:  +1-315-470-6870;


Fax: +1-315 470 6954


Received: 10 August 2011 / Accepted: 17 August 2011 / Published: 7 October 2011




Abstract: Energy Return on Investment (EROI) refers to how much energy is returned


from one unit of energy invested in an energy-producing activity. It is a critical parameter


for understanding and ranking different fuels. There were a number of studies on EROI


three decades ago but relatively little work since. Now there is a whole new interest in


EROI as fuels get increasingly expensive and as we attempt to weigh alternative energies


against traditional ones. This special volume brings together a whole series of high quality


new studies on EROI, as well as many papers that struggle with the meaning of changing


EROI and its impact on our economy. One overall conclusion is that the quality of fuels is


at least as important in our assessment as is the quantity. I argue that many of the


contemporary changes in our economy are related directly to changing EROI as our


premium fuels are increasingly depleted.


Keywords: energy; EROI; economic; fuels; quality of fuels




The concept of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) is a concept originally derived in ecology but


increasingly applied to oil and other industrial energies. It had precedents in the idea of “net energy


analysis” used by Leslie White, Kenneth Boulding and especially Howard Odum [1,2]. Similar but less


explicit and focused ideas can be found in the newer field of “life cycle analysis” that is better


developed in Europe than in the US. The word investment usually means energy investment but


sometimes may also include financial, environmental and/or other kinds of investments. Some people


like the term EROEI as a more explicit term, but we find it less useful and harder to pronounce. The


term EROI has been around since at least 1970, but it gained relatively little traction until the last five 3


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or ten years. Now there is an explosion of interest as peak oil and the general economic effects of


increasingly constrained energy supplies are becoming obvious to investigators from many fields. This


special issue examines various aspects of EROI with many exciting new studies from all around the


world. It is very special as there had been almost no new studies since the original studies of the 1970s


and 1980s and as the critical importance of the concept becomes ever more apparent as our highest


quality fuels are increasingly depleted.


There have been questions about the degree to which we should use EROI vs. more familiar ways


(e.g., price, financial return on financial investment in the oil business) to examine energy and other


resource choices. In addition there have been criticisms that EROI has some severe flaws: that


different studies give different answers to what appears to be the same question, that the boundaries of


the analysis are controversial, that market pricing is always superior to scientific studies, and that


EROI too often is dependent upon monetary data for its results. Explicit arguments for the virtues of


EROI are found in the Murphy et al. protocol paper in this issue [3]. Many other papers in this volume


take  on  these  issues  directly,  often  through  sensitivity  analysis,  and  we  believe  that  the  papers


collectively make the case that EROI is an incredibly robust, useful and interesting tool. While we


embrace “methodological pluralism”, that is different approaches to analysis, we favor EROI as the


most basic and useful kind of analysis for examining and perhaps determining our energy future


because, as developed by King and Hall in this issue, it ultimately determines the other ratios [4].


All of the papers in this special issue have been peer reviewed, usually very thoroughly, by


appropriate professionals. Several papers did not make it through the review process. Several of the


papers that did were nevertheless controversial, to say the least, and as editor of the whole issue I was


faced with several situations where I had both strongly positive and strongly negative reviews. In that


situation I sought additional reviewers, and generally received again mixed reviews. Where there were


a balanced number of positive and negative reviews I chose to publish the papers as I thought they


tended to be papers that I felt raised new and or important issues that later research is likely to sort out.


The issue is divided into four basic sections: Conceptual issues, EROI for Conventional fossil fuels,


EROI for other fuels, and looking forward.


In my opinion this is a remarkably important group of papers. While EROI has yet to gain global


popularity most of the contributors to this special issue would probably agree that few issues are likely


to be more important for the future of civilization, whatever that might be. For many of us the financial


crises that we have been experiencing since 2008 is a direct effect of the cessation of the growth of oil


(and even of all liquid fuels if done on an energy, not volume, basis) and of the general decline in


EROI. While this is not to discount the role of greed, corruption and mismanagement in all things


financial, nor the enormous shift in wealth to the upper few percent over the past several decades, at


the root of it all lies the decline in cheap, high EROI fuel that had once allowed the economy to do


more work. This has been especially important as the economy has been shifting to higher labor


productivity,  meaning  that  each  worker  generates  more  value  added  per  hour  working.  While


increasing labor productivity is normally perceived as a good thing higher productivity is usually


obtained by subsidizing each hour worked with increasing fossil fuel—in effect making each worker


more productive but each unit of energy less productive than otherwise because there is less labor


behind it! One result is that when Federal money is used to try to create jobs the money goes


increasingly to energy, even energy from overseas, rather than salaries.   4


Sustainability 2011, 3                             G 1775




The net effect of decreasing net energy supplies coupled with increasing labor productivity is that


10 to 20 percent of Americans have no job at all, a poorly paying job in the service sector, or work part


time. Incomes for the middle class have been stagnant at best for decades while the size of the middle


class shrinks. Many, perhaps most, new college graduates have had to greatly reduce their aspirations.


The stock market and real estate have become far less reliable ways to amass wealth. Some 46 of our


50 states and many of our municipalities face crippling budget deficits, and many colleges, pension


plans, charities and other institutions are operating with diminished funds or going bankrupt. It is


increasingly difficult to pay for the repair of storms and other environmental disasters. Even the United


States Government has seen its credit rating diminished. “Tea Partiers” seek to cut debt and the role of


government even while pole after pole shows the public does not want its health care or most other


benefits  cut.  Keynsian  deficit  spending  that  worked  in  the  past  and might  work  again  has few


advocates today because of crippling debt, nor is there the likelihood of future growth to repay any


such deficit spending because, unlike in 1946, the possibilities biophysical constraints make the


potential for sustained economic expansion seem very thin indeed. As individuals and as a nation we


have been living beyond our energy means for decades. We collectively do not know how to change


that situation because tax increases have become so unpopular even while such previously unheard of


programs as Medicare have become sacred. In earlier times the growth of the economic pie defused


arguments about how to cut it, but now the growth of the pie, constrained by the end of cheap energy


and the demise of energy growth, seems much less likely.


If the pie is no longer getting larger, indeed if because of energy constraints it can no longer get


larger, how will we slice it? This may force some ugly debates back into the public vision. Indeed if


EROI continues to decline then that will cut increasingly into discretionary spending (the engine for


economic growth) and we will need to ask some very hard questions about how we should spend our


money. One way to think about this is “Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs” [5]. This theory,


proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, proposes that


humans will attempt to meet their needs in more or less the following order: First they will meet their


physiological  needs,  which  are  the  literal  requirements  for  human  survival,  including  breathing,


nutrition, water, sleep, homeostasis, excretion and reproductive activity. Second, once physiological


needs are satisfied an individual will attempt to meet safety needs in an attempt to attain a predictable,


orderly world in which perceived unfairness and inconsistency are under control, the familiar frequent


and the unfamiliar rare. Third, once the above needs are met humans seek love and belonging, i.e.,


emotionally based relationships in general, such as friendship, intimacy and family. Fourth, again once


the above have been met humans seek esteem, to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect


and also the esteem of others. Finally, according to Maslow, people seek self-actualization, the need to


understand what a person’s full potential is and to realize that potential, to become everything that one


is capable of becoming—for example an ideal parent, athlete, painter, or inventor.


Such a hierarchy applies to our energy use. Think of a society dependent upon one resource: its


domestic oil. If the EROI for this oil was 1.1:1 then one could pump the oil out of the ground and look


at it. If it were 1.2:1 you could also refine it and look at it, 1.3:1 also distribute it to where you want to


use it but all you could do is look at it. Hall et al. 2008 examined the EROI required to actually run a


truck and found that if the energy included was enough to build and maintain the truck and the


roads and bridges required to use it (i.e., depreciation), one would need at least a 3:1 EROI at the   5


Sustainability 2011, 3                             G 1776




wellhead [6]. Now if you wanted to put something in the truck, say some grain, and deliver it that


would require an EROI of, say, 5:1 to grow the grain. If you wanted to include depreciation on the oil


field worker, the refinery worker, the truck driver and the farmer you would need an EROI of say 7 or


8:1 to support the families. If the children were to be educated you would need perhaps 9 or 10:1, have


health care 12:1, have arts in their life maybe 14:1 and so on. Obviously to have a modern civilization


one needs not simply surplus energy but lots of it, and that requires either a high EROI or a massive


source of moderate EROI fuels. As we watch the magnificent Syracuse Symphony and our equally


magnificent State University systems go broke we believe we are watching the beginning of the


decline of civilization driven by a declining EROI. If things get a lot tougher, as many think, the low


EROI energy that is available will go to growing food and supporting families. It is clear that we must


understand energy and its changes if we are to understand changes in our economy.


Maslow’s theory has been criticized from a number of angles including the supposed lack of


evidence that humans in fact follow that hierarchy, or indeed any such hierarchy, and from the


perspective that his “pyramids of needs” may be more representative of people from an individualist


vs. socialist society. Nevertheless his theory is broadly accepted in psychology and even marketing.


Our  own  research  on  the  implications  of  declining  net  energy,  while  not  consciously  based  on


Maslow’s theories, is consistent with them. We have the sense that discretionary spending will be


increasingly abandoned as humans attempt to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing [7].


Presumably as the amount of net energy declines due to peak oil and declining EROI, humans will


increasingly give up categories higher on the pyramids and concentrate increasingly on the more basic


requirements including food, shelter and clothing. What this may mean in modern society is that


performance art, then expensive vacations, then education, then health care would be abandoned by the


middle class as the economy is increasingly restricted. Whether this can be reversed by diverting


where and by whom we chose to spend such surplus money or energy as we have will be an


increasingly dominant challenge to society.


Acknowledgments


I thank all authors and reviewers for this special issue, and Ajay Gupta and Alexandre Poisson for


editorial help on this chapter.


Conflict of Interest


There are no conflicts of interest associated with this paper.


References and Notes


1.  Odum, H.T. Environment, Power and Society. Wiley Interscience: New York, NY, USA ,1973.


2.  Odum, H.T. Energy, ecology and economics. AMBIO 1973, 2, 220-227.


3.  Murphy, D.; Hall C.A.S., Dale M.; Cleveland, C. Order from chaos: A preliminary protocol for


determining EROI for fuels. Sustainability, in press.


4.  King,  C.;  Hall,  C.A.S.  Relating  financial  and  energy  return  on  investment.  Sustainability,


in press.


5.  Maslow, A. A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review 1943, 50, 370-396.


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