EROEI Computer Model

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cnbbaldwin's picture
cnbbaldwin
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EROEI Computer Model

Chris, as I listened to your presentation at the UN and other recent reports, it seemed to me that you believe the E that will drive all others is ENERGY.    I am in full agreement.  The frightening idea for me is that for every 1 million barrels of oil taken out of the ground in 1930 about 990,000 barrels of NET energy was available to build our "complex" society (skyscrapers, bridges, ships, planes, trains, automobiles, homes, military, etc.) , but what if we were to start building that same complex society today with an EROEI ratio of say 10:1?   We would need to take 9.9 million barrels out of the ground to get the 990,000 barrels required to rebuild that equivalent society.  It's as though we throw away 8,910,000 of the 9,900,000 barrels, except that we don't just thow it away.   We burn it putting approximately 8,000,000,000 additional pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere in the process.   At a ratio of 3:1 (which we may be approaching on new reserve discoveries)  we have to extract 33 million barrels to get the same production that 1million barrels did in 1930 (I don't even want to do the numbers on that scenario).  With these kinds of numbers it's easy to see why some might get more than a little nervous about wasting any of these precious resources on "things" that don't lead us to a sustainable system.  As far as I know, there has been no extensive EROEI computer model developed (on the scope of the Climate Change Models).  It would seem that such a model would be an incredibly useful tool.  On a macro level we could model a range of  possible futures that would be dependent on how we decide to "spend" these energy credits.  In other words, such a model would provide a powerful decision making tool.  Should we use the remaining fossil fuel reserves to build out the infrastructure of a sustainable world, and for how many people - 7billion, 5billion, 1Billion,?   It would clearly and objectively demonstate the hard facts that for every new F35 fighter, Barbie, Office Building, "Bridge to Nowhere", or simply driving here, there and everywhere, that energy (and material resources) will be consumed and lost with them the opportunity to make different and perhaps wiser choices (Chris' notion that we are frittering away what remains of our "relatively" cheap energy).  Perhaps more important, such a model, if truly regarded as authentic and valid could be the powerful motivator for change that we so desparately need, but find so difficult to make happen within the timeframe required to avert catastrophic collapse and chaos.   Funding of someone with the big picture in mind, who could lead the project with concerned scientists, engineers and some supercomputer time could make this a reality............Just a thought.

deggleton's picture
deggleton
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Posts: 250
Re: EROEI Computer Model
cnbbaldwin wrote:

As far as I know, there has been no extensive EROEI computer model developed (on the scope of the Climate Change Models).  It would seem that such a model would be an incredibly useful tool.  On a macro level we could model a range of  possible futures that would be dependent on how we decide to "spend" these energy credits.  In other words, such a model would provide a powerful decision making tool.  Should we use the remaining fossil fuel reserves to build out the infrastructure of a sustainable world, and for how many people - 7billion, 5billion, 1Billion?

Alas, there is no we to say "Yeah, let's do that."

sofistek's picture
sofistek
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Posts: 818
Re: EROEI Computer Model

Charlie Hall has done a lot of work on EROEI (or EROI, as he calls it). The Oil Drum has posted a lot of articles about EROI. Here is a post from Charlie Hall, responding to comments on a series of articles that he'd posted earlier about EROEI (the linked post has a link to the first part of that series).

[Here is a link to the last part of the series, which contains links to the other parts].

SteveW's picture
SteveW
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Posts: 490
Re: EROEI Computer Model
cnbbaldwin wrote:

The frightening idea for me is that for every 1 million barrels of oil taken out of the ground in 1930 about 990,000 barrels of NET energy was available to build our "complex" society (skyscrapers, bridges, ships, planes, trains, automobiles, homes, military, etc.) , but what if we were to start building that same complex society today with an EROEI ratio of say 10:1?   We would need to take 9.9 million barrels out of the ground to get the 990,000 barrels required to rebuild that equivalent society.  It's as though we throw away 8,910,000 of the 9,900,000 barrels, except that we don't just thow it away.

Indeed it is frightening but not as frightening as you suggest.

In your first example EROEI is 100:1. So from 1,000,000 barrels of oil you get the energy of 1,000,000 X 99/100 or 990,000 barrels. That means to have 990,000 net barrels of energy you need to pump 990,000 X 100/99 or 1,000,000 barrels.

At an EROEI of 10 you need to pump 990,000 X 10/9 or 1,100,000 barrels which is 10% more.

At an EROEI of 3 you need to pump 990,000 X 3/2 or 1,485,000 barrels which is 48.5% more..

 

 

 

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