Posted by David Murphy on October 25, 2010 - 10:45am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Tags: american, american petroleum institute, david murphy, economics, eroi, growth, institute, m. king hubbert, oil, peak oil, petroleum [list all tags]
After the conference, Jane Van Ryan from the American Petroleum Institute (API) asked to interview me for her weekly podcast for the Energy Tomorrow blog. You can listen to the interview by clicking below, or alternatively, I have copied the transcript of the interview below the fold. The interview is 15 minutes long for those who would like to listen.
The Oil Drum recognizes that API (and hence Energy Tomorrow) is funded by the oil and gas industry. But the interview here relates to my research, which is not funded by such interests. I think the interview serves a useful purpose, because it makes my work accessible to a wider audience.
Posted by David Murphy on September 17, 2010 - 10:16am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Tags: david murphy, economic growth, eroi, feedbacks, insidious, original, peak oil, prices [list all tags]
The following is a brief portion of a paper of the same title that we (Charles Hall and I) wrote and that is currently under peer-review. I will be presenting on this topic at this year’s ASPO conference in Washington, D.C. I hope that our readers will attend!
Numerous theories attempting to explain business cycles have been posited over the past century, each offering a unique explanation for the causes of--and solutions to--recessions, including: Keynesian Theory, the Monetarist Model, the Rational Expectations Model, Real Business Cycle Models, New (Neo-) Keynesian models, etc…
Yet, for all the differences amongst these theories, they all share one implicit assumption: a return to a growing economy, i.e. growing GDP, is in fact possible. Historically, there has been no reason to question this assumption as GDP, incomes, and most other measures of economic growth have in fact grown steadily over the past century. (Note: economic growth and “business as usual” economic growth are used synonymousy to mean an annual growth in GDP)
But if you believe as I do that the world is entering a unique period defined by flattening and then declining oil supplies, then for the first time in history we may be asked to grow the economy while simultaneously decreasing oil consumption, something that has yet to occur in the U.S. In this post I attempt to answer the following question: Is a return to long term economic growth possible?
Posted by David Murphy on August 9, 2010 - 10:30am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Topic: Alternative energy
Tags: corn yield, david murphy, ethanol, original, sensitivity analysis, spatial [list all tags]
The following is the second of two posts based on a recent paper published under the same title in the journal Environment, Development, and Sustainability. I was the lead author for the article. The other two authors were Charles Hall and Bobby Powers. Part 1 of this series can be found at this link.
In the analysis underlying our paper "New Perspectives on the Energy Return on (Energy) Investment (EROI) of Corn Ethanol," we performed four major analyses relating to the EROI of corn ethanol. The first was a meta-error analysis, in which we quantified the error associated with the calculation of EROI of corn ethanol based on various estimates of the energy inputs and outputs found in the literature. The second was a spacial analysis of the EROI of corn ethanol. These two items were discussed in Part 1 of this series.
In this part, we will discuss a two additional research areas from the paper. These two additional research areas are:
- A sensitivity analysis, in which we assess the extent to which corn yields and co-product credits impact the EROI of corn ethanol.
- An assessment of how much net energy was delivered to society by ethanol in 2009.
We have also included our more general conclusions.
Posted by David Murphy on July 26, 2010 - 10:30am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Topic: Alternative energy
Tags: corn, david murphy, ethanol, meta-analysis, original, spatial, united states [list all tags]
The following is the first of two posts based on a recent paper published under the same title in the journal Environment, Development, and Sustainability. The paper is divided into five sections, and to keep each post succinct, we have divided the paper into two posts. The first post will present the first two sections of the research and the second post will present the last three sections and the conclusions of the research.
Fig. 2. Map of the EROI of corn ethanol production for counties within states that produced at least 1% of the corn harvest in 2005, and biorefinery locations.
"The true value of energy to society is the net energy, which is that after the energy costs of getting and concentrating that energy are subtracted.” - H.T. Odum (1973)
To reduce Odum’s assertion to a pithy phrase—it takes energy to get energy – and for the past 150 years society has accessed enormous quantities of energy in the form of fossil fuels at a very low cost. Early U.S. oil production provided 100 barrels of oil for every barrel spent in getting that oil (Cleveland 2005), while traditional fuel sources (e.g. biomass) returned much less. This huge increase in net energy enabled society to build cities, increase crop yields, build cars, etc…
Today, the circumstances are different, as nearly all of the easy-to-find and easy-to-produce oil wells have been found and produced. For example, Ghawar, the world’s biggest oil field, was discovered in 1948, and even with all of the advances in seismic technology over the past 60 years, nary an oil well of nearly the same magnitude has been found.
What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have? Part 3: Calculating the minimum EROI to support the U.S. transportation system
The following multi-part series is taken from a paper we published last year in the free, on-line journal Energies. You may access the entire PDF here. All references can be found in the pdf. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here.
In this final installment of the Minimum EROI series we calculate the minimum EROI required from our energy sources to support the current transportation infrastructure of the U.S.
What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have? Part 2: The Economic Cost of Energy, EROI, and Surplus Energy
Posted by David Murphy on March 24, 2010 - 10:03am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Tags: cost, david murphy, economic, minimum eroi, original, society, surplus, sustainability [list all tags]
The following multi-part series is taken from a paper that my colleagues and I published last year in the free, on-line journal Energies. You may access the entire PDF here. All references can be found in the pdf. Part 1 can be found here.
The first section of this post discusses how the economic cost of energy changes with changes in the price of energy. The second section discusses the impact of declining EROI on economies; specifically this section addresses whether or not the time trend of EROI supports the claim by some economists that advances in technology will overcome the depletion of fossil fuels. The third section discusses how surplus energy is used to run the economy by analyzing a simplified economy that is powered by oil only.
What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have? Part 1: Surplus Energy and Biological Evolution
Posted by David Murphy on March 15, 2010 - 10:38am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Tags: biology, chickadee, david murphy, eroi, evolution, net energy, original, surplus, sustainability [list all tags]
The following multi-part series is taken from a paper that my colleagues and I published last year in the free, on-line journal Energies. You may access the entire PDF here. All references can be found in the pdf.
EROI theory is rooted in the biological principle that in order to survive each species on earth must procure more energy from its food than it expends attaining that food. From this basic principle the importance of energy surplus became evident, as food sources needed to “pay” not only for metabolism but also for reproduction and storage for leaner times. Part 1 of this three part series presents a brief history of the concept of surplus energy and how it has influenced both biological and human evolution.
1.1. Background: The History of Formal Thought on Surplus Energy
Energy surplus is defined broadly as the amount of energy left over after the costs of obtaining the energy have been accounted for. The energy literature is quite rich with papers and books that emphasize the importance of energy surplus as a necessary criteria for allowing for the survival and growth of many species including humans, as well as human endeavors, including the development of science, art, culture and indeed civilization itself. Most of us who have thought about this issue deeply would even say that energy surplus is the best general way to think about how different societies evolved over time. To chemists Frederick Soddy and William Ostwald, anthropologist Leslie White, archeologist Joseph Tainter, historian John Perlin, systems ecologist Howard T. Odum, sociologist Frederick Cottrell, economist Nicolas Georgescu-Roegan, energy scientist Vaclav Smil and a number of others in these and other disciplines, human history, including contemporary events, is essentially about exploiting energy and the technologies to do so.
The “Don’t Fear the 2010s” article written by Nick Gillespie of the Wall Street Journal featured a section on Peak Oil and, after reading it, I found myself uttering the famous words of Homer Simpson: “Doh.” The article claims that "something always gets in the way" of peak oil, and since no clear peak has occured globally, Peak Oil is and will remain unimportant. Although early discussions about peak oil involved estimations of the actual date of the peak, today the discussion has transcended its past mathematical proclivities to include more complex (and more meaningful) issues. Let’s examine some of the more important insights to be gained from the discussion of peak oil.
REVIEW: A Preliminary Investigation of Energy Return on Energy Investment for Global Oil and Gas Production
Posted by David Murphy on July 28, 2009 - 9:20am in The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Tags: charles hall, eroi, extraction, lysle brinker, nate gagnon, natural gas, net energy, oil [list all tags]
This post reviews a paper by Nate Gagnon, Charles Hall and Lysle Brinker titled: “A Preliminary Investigation of Energy Return on Energy Investment for Global Oil and Gas Production,” published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Energies. The lead author was my colleague for two years at SUNY-ESF and the second author is currently my Ph.D. advisor and has published numerous guest posts here on The Oil Drum. See here for a list of previous posts relating to work by Dr. Charles Hall, and here to download a full-text PDF of this paper.
EROI of Global Oil and Gas Production