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Posts tagged “eroei”

By Robert Rapier on Feb 23, 2016 with 27 responses

A Critical Review of the 2015 Energy Balance for Corn Ethanol

The USDA recently updated the numbers on the energy balance of corn ethanol in 2015 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry. Today returning guest Todd “Ike” Kiefer scrutinizes the numbers in the report and he raises some critical questions about the data and methodology.

Previously Mr. Kiefer wrote an article critical of the Navy’s efforts to promote biofuels in a periodical that is sent to Congress and top military leaders. The article was entitled Energy Insecurity: The False Promise of Liquid Biofuels (discussed here). He also wrote a guest article here in the past called EPA’s Sleight of Hand on Cellulosic Fuel Rule Change. His biography can be found at the end of the article.

I would remind readers that while I may agree with much, if not most of what Mr. Kiefer writes, these are his opinions. I have not taken a close look at this USDA paper myself, so it is possible that we could have a difference of opinion on some element(s) of the analysis. I don’t know that to be the case, but until I read the paper myself I offer up that caveat. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 9, 2013 with 19 responses

The Cost of Production and Energy Return of Oil Sands


Today’s article continues the series covering my recent trip to the Athabasca oil sands around Fort McMurray, Alberta. This is an annual trip that the Canadian government hosts for energy journalists, and expenses for the trip were paid for by the Canadian government.

Previous articles in this series include:

Today I want to discuss in more detail the two companies that we visited on this trip: Canadian Natural Resources Limited (NYSE: CNQ, TSE: CNQ) and Cenovus Energy (NYSE: CVE, TSE: CVE). I will detail the cost of oil sands production via the different methods these companies utilize, as well as the energy return on energy invested (EROEI) of extracting the bitumen. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Apr 26, 2012 with 4 responses

Discussing Peak Oil, Speculators, Oil Shale, and Alternative Fuels

I am traveling some over the next two weeks, and did not have a chance to record my weekly video segment this week. However, last Friday I was a guest on Alan Colmes’ show on Fox News Radio, so I will share that this week instead. I had been a guest on his show last month to discuss whether President Obama bears responsibility for high gas prices.

As I said then, gas prices are outside the control of a sitting U.S. president. As an aside, gas prices appear to have peaked for now and are on the way down. Does anyone who blamed Obama for higher prices think he is responsible for bringing them back down? That is in fact a dangerous issue to campaign on, because if gasoline prices fall between now and the election — and you have made a big deal out of how they are the President’s responsibility — guess what? President Obama now takes credit for falling gas prices.

Anyway, I am drifting off topic here. On his show, Alan and I discussed my new book Power Plays. Some of the topics we discussed were:

  • What peak oil means
  • The role of speculators in the oil market
  • Why I am skeptical that we will address rising carbon emissions
  • Whether methane hydrates are a viable alternative energy source
  • The difference between our oil shale resource and oil reserves
  • Which alternative fuels are promising


By Robert Rapier on Dec 22, 2011 with 39 responses

R-Squared Energy TV: Episode 6 – EROEI Explained

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV I present the first of several mini-presentations on energy topics of interest. The presentations will be short, 5 to 8 minute presentations with 3 to 5 slides each. This week’s presentation is on Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI). I believe there are a lot of misunderstandings from both proponents and opponents of EROEI methodology, and I attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions. Some of the questions answered are: What exactly is EROEI? Where might it be useful, and where might it possibly provide misleading answers? What are the societal implications of a declining EROEI? When is a lower EROEI process better than a higher EROEI process? What does EROEI… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 21, 2011 with 55 responses

My Book Has a Name — Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil

I have gotten numerous inquiries about the book I am working on, so just wanted to provide a quick update. I have been unsure about exactly how long this process would take, but apparently it is a lot faster than I had imagined. My original thinking was that it would be out around the middle of next year, but I found out today that it is already available. People have been asking about the title, but I have been saying that it isn’t set in stone. Well, it is now: Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil I don’t actually know if that cover is final; this is actually the first time I have seen it and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 31, 2011 with 42 responses

How Not to Use EROEI

This week I will be at the 2011 ASPO-USA Conference. I will deliver one talk on technical due diligence and one on our new energy reality. I will also participate in a roundtable discussion on investing. On the talk on our new energy reality, I am going to have a slide on my general observations over the past few years. One of those observations is that the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested — EROEI — is frequently misused. The most common example is when people simply dismiss a process because it has a low EROEI or a net negative energy return. So as I am finalizing my slides, I thought I would share my EROEI observations here. What… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 7, 2010 with 63 responses

Fun with Numbers: The New USDA Report on Corn Ethanol

The EROEI of Ethanol Over the past decade, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published several papers in which they investigated the energy return of corn ethanol. The energy return on energy invested (EROEI) is simply the value of the energy outputs for a process divided by the energy inputs into the process. In simple terms, if a process required 1 BTU of energy to produce 2 BTUs of ethanol, the EROEI is 2. However, in reality it is somewhat more complex than that. The way the energy inputs and outputs are allocated can have a very big influence on the answer. Just by changing the nature of the allocation – as I will show below – you… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 9, 2009 with no responses

Answering Reader Questions 2009: Part 4

This marks the final installment of answers to questions recently submitted by readers. This final installment covers the impact of E10 on fuel efficiency, my general optimism (or lack thereof), algal fuel, thermodynamics and energy limitations, Accoya, and litigation. Once again, thanks to the readers who submitted questions, and thanks to those who helped answer them. Without the help I received, this might have been a 10-part series. Here are the links to the previous installments: Part 1 – Covered plasma gasification, natural gas projections, free energy, promising alternative energy technologies, and GTL Part 2 – Covered coal-to-liquids, technology hype, green gasoline, refining improvements, allocation of money toward renewables, electricity consumption, the Automotive X Prize, Big Oil, cellulosic ethanol, and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 14, 2008 with 3 responses

The Energy Return of Tar Sands

When evaluating energy technologies – whether conventional fossil fuels or alternative energy – one thing that I pay close attention to is the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI). While there are legitimate criticisms of the methodology, it can serve as a useful tool for comparing and contrasting various alternatives. To give a flavor for why this is, consider an example. Let’s say society as a whole produces 50 million barrels of oil equivalents (could be oil, nuclear, wind, solar, biofuels, or a combination). Consider a couple of energy options. Option A has an EROEI of 10/1 (Energy Output/Energy Input). Option B has an EROEI of 2/1. Option A has to consume 5 million barrels to produce 50, for a… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 5, 2008 with 10 responses

Understanding EROEI

Introduction The concept of energy return on energy invested, or EROEI, is terribly misunderstood. I have heard people argue that EROEI doesn’t matter, only economics. This misses a very key point: EROEI is going to have a huge impact on economics, because it shows that in order to maintain current net energy for society, energy production must accelerate as EROEI declines. Likewise, I have heard people hand wave away the issue, suggesting it is really no big deal. Here’s an example that I saw yesterday in a thread at The Oil Drum: Consider an EROEI of 20 with 10 units required; this means that 1 unit is invested to get 20 unit of output or if 10 units are required… Continue»