DeepResource

Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Charles Hall on EROI

Talk Princeton 2016.

Hall comes from ecology and that’s where he minted the concept of energy return on invest. It was first applied to fish and fish migration patterns. Hall discovered that my moving around at the energy cost of 1 calorie, the fish gained 5 calories (salmon eating plankton). Life in general has to engage in energy investments.

Next Hall applied EROI on humans. Hunter/gatherers need to walk/run to find food, nuts and animals. Fire enhanced EROI since it made cooking of food possible, which was more abundant and easier to acquire than animals.

Next step agriculture allowed for food storage, yielding in EROI in the range of 10-50, enabling leisure, resulting in socializing, like story telling.

Next step fossil fuel exploitation. Secret: you want more wealth? Use more energy. During Hall’s lifetime, energy use per capita, as well as wealth increased by a factor of 7.

Next graph that shows the % of GDP spent on energy, with a sharp decline after 1850 (application of coal). In the 1990s that % went up again. Hall states that EROI of most of our fuels is declining as they are depleting.

Hall acknowledges the importance of technology and that technology is in competition with depletion and refers to his book about (low) EROI of solar with Pietro. Pietro today is even more pessimistic about EROI of PV-solar than before.

Refers to the reality of peak (conventional) oil. Decline EROI of Norwegian North Sea oil from 1:40 to 1:20. Patterns applies to everywhere else. Net energy cliff. Offshore wind has EROI of 52. Shows picture with peak fossil (all included) at 2045. Familiar pyramid of cultural achievements as related to EROI. For arts you are supposed to need 14:1 (a ridiculous notion, the highest art was created before the fossil fuel age).

Hall has extremely little hope for renewable energy and suggests that by 3000, humans will be hunters-gatherers again. Hall nevertheless says it is wise that we move the renewables and downplays importance climate change a little and that the EROI discussion-implications are more important for society.

[cassandralegacy] – Charlie Hall speaks about EROI (and many other things)

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