Let’s talk about EROEI or Energy Return on Energy Invested
EROEI is often cited as a metric to compare fossil fuels with renewables.
Typically, the claim is made that fossil fuels are way better with much higher EROEI and that a global energy system based on renewables will implode under the burden of its internal energy demand because we will use more energy to build the renewables than we get back from them.
But is there any truth in these claims?
Making comparisons is tricky as the EROEI needs to be considered at the system level to compare apples with apples, and so with this series of articles, we will attempt to do just that.
As a starting point, we will use the following assumptions: ranges I have established through numerous articles on the subject and my in-depth knowledge of fossil fuel energy systems.
I’m not married to these values, and if anyone has numbers they believe are better, please feel free to provide feedback.
Important note: The EROEI of wind and solar are steadily increasing as technology advances, whereas the EROEI of oil and, to a lesser extent, gas is in steady decline as it becomes progressively more challenging to find and extract.