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View Diary: 2030: The End of Easy Oil (23 comments)

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  •  EROEI (4+ / 0-)

    Energy Return On Energy Invested.  

    For example, it takes me one gallon of gas to drive to the gas station and put ten gallons in my tank.  My EROEI is 10.  

    However, let's say it takes me one gallon of gas to drive to the gas station and all I can get is one more gallon.  Now my EROEI is zero.   At that point, the gas I can get does not help me because all of it is used going to the gas station and back.  This is like getting zero percent interest on an investment of money: why bother?

    And if it takes me two gallons of gas to drive to the gas station but all I can get is one gallon, then my EROEI is -1.   At that point it is NOT worth while for me to go to the gas station because I will not even get enough gas to make up for the gas used in the trip.  

    So:

    In the past, it took the equivalent energy of one barrel of oil to get many more than one barrel of oil out of the ground.   Very good, cheap energy, whoopie!

    As we get past peak oil we will have used up the oil that is "easy" to get at, and the remainder will take more and more energy to set up the wells, drill the deeper holes, use the water injection and other special technologies to get at the oil, and finally get it out of the ground and refine it.  

    When the amount of energy it takes is equivalent to what comes out, e.g. 1 barrel of oil's worth of energy to get 1 barrel of oil out of the ground and refined, then it will be pointless to use oil as an energy source because it will create no net benefit in terms of energy.  Like going to the gas station and buying just enough gas for your next trip to the gas station.  

    And the closer we get to this point, the more and more shit hits the fan in terms of energy production for actual use.  The energy usefulness of oil declines even as the supply dries up and the price skyrockets.

    Peak oil has the potential to cause civilization to crash if we do not implement other sources of energy.  Coal is a climate-killer.   At present the best we have are renewables, nuclear, and conservation.    Fifty years from now we may have viable fusion, but we still have to get from here to there.   In any case, thorium is a good fission fuel, it's safe and plentiful, so even if we don't get to viable fusion any time soon, we can keep going on renewables and thorium-based nuclear fission for a few hundred more years easily.  

    Or we can just go back to the caves.  

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