Energy Return on Energy Invested – Prof. Charles Hall’s Comments

In my most recent post, Why the Standard Model of Future Energy Supply Doesn’t Work, I made some comments about the calculation of Energy Returned on Energy Invested. Professor Charles Hall sent me the following response to what I said, which he wanted to have published. I have a few follow-up comments, but I will save them for the comments section.

Section of Why the Standard Model of Future Energy Supply Doesn’t Work Upon Which Comments Are Being Made

The Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) Model of Prof. Charles Hall depended on the thinking of the day: it was the energy consumption that was easy to count that mattered. If a person could discover which energy products had the smallest amount of easily counted energy products as inputs, this would provide an estimate of the efficiency of an energy type, in some sense. Perhaps a transition could be made to more efficient types of energy, so that fossil fuels, which seemed to be in short supply, could be conserved.

The catch is that it is total energy consumption, that matters, not easily counted energy consumption. In a networked economy, there is a huge amount of energy consumption that cannot easily be counted: the energy consumption to build and operate schools, roads, health care systems, and governments; the energy consumption required to maintain a system that repays debt with interest; the energy consumption that allows governments to collect significant taxes on exported oil and other goods. The standard EROEI method assumes the energy cost of each of these is zero. Typically, wages of workers are not considered either.

There is also a problem in counting different types of energy inputs and outputs. Our economic system assigns different dollar values to different qualities of energy; the EROEI method basically assigns only ones and zeros. In the EROEI method, certain categories that are hard to count are zeroed out completely. The ones that can be counted are counted as equal, regardless of quality. For example, intermittent electricity is treated as equivalent to high quality, dispatchable electricity.

The EROEI model looked like it would be helpful at the time it was created. Clearly, if one oil well uses considerably more energy inputs than a nearby oil well, it would be a higher-cost well. So, the model seemed to distinguish energy types that were higher cost, because of resource usage, especially for very similar energy types.

Another benefit of the EROEI method was that if the problem were running out of fossil fuels, the model would allow the system to optimize the use of the limited fossil fuels that seemed to be available, based on the energy types with highest EROEIs. This would seem to make best use of the fossil fuel supply available.

Charlie Hall responds:

I have always been, remain and will probably always continue to be a huge fan of Gail Tverberg, her analyses and her blogs. I am also committed to try and make sure science, such as I understand it, remains committed to truth, such as that is possible, which includes an accurate representation of the scientific work of others. In that spirit I wish to correct a short piece (referenced above) that is attempting to represent my own work on Energy Return on Investment (EROI or EROEI) but does not do so in a way that is fully consistent with the published work of myself and my colleagues.

I define EROI as a simple ratio, not a model, but have no particular concern about Gail’s use of the word model other than that it may imply something more complicated than it is. EROI is an observational tool for analysis, not a model with an objective in mind. My perspective is summarized in my 2017 book “Energy Return on Investment: A unifying principle for Biology, Economics, and Sustainability” although my approach is consistent throughout my published work with occasional small additions as our understanding expands, changes in available data occur or new questions arise. For example my methods going as far back as Cleveland et al. 1984 and Hall, Cleveland and Kaufmann (1986) are available for anyone to see and virtually the same as those in Murphy et al. 2011 and Hall 2017. The field is rich and very active today, with an entire well-funded and attended four day meeting at the French Institute of Physics at Les Houches dedicated to EROI last year, a two day session on petroleum (including many papers on EROI) at the American Chemical Society in New Orleans a month ago, and many very interesting publications by, for example, Carey King, Marco Raugui, Adam Brandt, Mohammed Masnadi, Victor Court and Florian Fizaine among many others.

As others increasingly used EROI there became increasingly different approaches used, so, in order to generate a consistent nomenclature and basis for comparison (EROIstandard) while allowing flexibility and creativity in use we published a protocol for performing EROI analysis (Murphy et al. 2011; Carey King has also addressed making the nomenclature and methods more explicit). Sometimes EROI studies are not easily comparable due to limitations in data or philosophy (see point 3). This is not something that escapes EROI researchers and is widely discussed in the literature. Sometimes we have examined the reasons for different EROI’s in the literature (e.g. Hall, Dale and Pimentel). Another issue is that it is common for blogs and reporters to read more into the results of scientific publications on EROI than the authors sought to assess, and such false conclusions can move very quickly on the Internet.

I now address some of Gail Tverberg’s specific points (in bold):

1) “The catch is that it is total energy consumption that matters, not easily counted energy consumption”. To understand this one must begin with the definition of EROI, for example on page 66 of the above book:

As we define again and again we have used the direct (e.g. natural gas to pressurize an oil field) plus indirect (energy to make the capital equipment: see Fig. 6 legend of Cleveland et al.) energies that are used to exploit fuels from Nature. We have consistently defined EROI to mean energy at the wellhead, mine mouth, bussbar or farm gate unless explicitly stated otherwise. We consider the energy used subsequently to deliver or use that energy as efficiency (as in food chain efficiency) of the use system. These data are not easy to gain, requiring many months of research in many libraries and government archives (See Appendix 1 of Guilford et al.) and are becoming more difficult as much of our National data gathering erodes. Such difficulties and their consequences are usually referred to in peer-reviewed EROI research papers by the authors themselves.

2) “The standard EROEI method assumes the energy cost of each of these is zero.” This is most explicitly not true. As appropriate (and as we have become better at the analysis) we have included energy costs of taxes (e.g. Prieto and Hall), Roads (Hall, Balogh and Murphy; Prieto and Hall), labor (e.g. Hall et al 1986; Prieto and Hall) and so on. We have tended to avoid the contentious issue of whether or not to include labor as “input” or “consumption” but occasionally undertook it as sensitivity analysis.

Gail is correct in saying that there are many more costs associated with energy, and that these costs are extremely important to society. But we normally consider these as costs associated with use of energy, but not its extraction from Nature which is the point and definition of EROI analysis. We have considered these before as EROIpou, that is at the point of use, or more recently (and better in my opinion now) as the EROI (at the mine mouth) required to support various levels of societal well-being (e.g. education, health care, arts etc.; Lambert et al.). At the logical extreme we may wish to include all of civilization’s activities as supportive of the energy extractive process so that EROI would be (by definition) 1:1, but that does not seem useful to me. We need to know how much energy it takes to get each actual or potential energy resource. For example, with an EROI of close to 1:1 corn-based ethanol is not a net energy source to a modern complex society. The lower EROI of renewables after accounting for intermittency (see below) will make the transition to renewables, if that is possible, very difficult.

3) “The ones that can be counted are counted as equal, regardless of quality”. This is absolutely not true. We have considered quality exhaustively, and have even presented our results with and without quality corrections from our earliest publications (Cleveland et al., Hall et al.) through our most recent publications (Hall 2017 p. 133 etc.). Murphy et al. includes a sophisticated procedure called the Divisia index to correct qualities of input and output energy which we sometimes use in our results. The question of intermittency with wind and photovoltaic energy is a difficult issue repeatedly considered in EROI analysis although not fully resolved by the greater scientific community, but also clarified with the recent publications of Palmer (and Tverberg) for certain systems. Depending upon the penetration of renewables, including intermittency in the analysis greatly reduces the EROI of these technologies. Whether one corrects for the quality of energy output for these sources is best handled with sensitivity analysis.

EROI is not some flawed tool of the past, but a consistent yet evolving and improving tool becoming more and more important everyday as the depletion of our primary fuels continues and as replacement with renewables is increasingly considered. While EROI analysis is hardly precision science, mostly due to data limitations, nevertheless as I reviewed my older publications for this response I was impressed by the general consistency of our results (corrected for e.g. depletion over time) from 1979 and especially 1984 to present. A large problem is the erosion of the Federal support for, and hence quality of, the data of e.g. the U.S. Bureau of Census and the increasing use of EROI (and scientific analysis more generally) for advocacy rather than objective analysis and hypothesis testing. Essentially all credible analyses show a declining EROI of our principle fuels and a much lower EROI for those fuels we might have to replace them. The economic consequences are likely to be enormous. It continues to astonish me that there is essentially no Federal or other support for good, objective analysis of EROI and its implications. EROI is not only as important as when it was created it is critical now as we choose, or more likely will be forced into, making an energy transition. With appropriate support we have the conceptual and procedural tools to undertake needed analyses which can be an important tool in understanding and (with other tools) guiding our transition to renewable energy resources, if indeed that is possible.

Having said this I would like to point out where Gail does have a very good point. The amount of energy necessary to maintain the infrastructure within which our energy extraction industries can function (e.g. roads, schools, health care, perhaps civilization itself) is enormous and is not counted in my most of my studies as part of the investments to get the energy. OK good point. How to do this i.e. how to prorate this relative to e.g. all of the health care investments for all of the population? One might add up all of the labor in the appropriate energy industries, compare this to the total population and multiply the ratio by the total energy used in health care. Or one might assume that all of the energy required to support labor, including the energy associated with the depreciation of the worker (i.e. the energy used to support the family of the worker) is well represented by the worker’s salary. So if a worker makes $70,000 in a year one could multiply that by the mean energy intensity of the U.S. economy (about 6 MJ per dollar) to generate the energy used to support labor for year (420 GigaJoules, equal to about 70 barrels of oil). Again doing this for all energy workers would be a huge sum. When as part of sensitivity analysis we added in an estimate of the energy to support workers’ salaries for building solar facilities in Spain it doubled the energy cost of building and maintaining the PV structures and halved its EROI. The main point that I think Gail is making is that as our high quality fossil fuels are depleted and we contemplate shifting to renewable energies we will have a lower and lower net energy delivered to run the non-energy portion of society with very large consequences. I completely agree with this.

References (in chronological order – there are many more that could be added)

Hall, C.A.S., M. Lavine and J. Sloane. 1979. Efficiency of energy delivery systems: Part I. An economic and energy analysis. Environ. Mgment. 3 (6): 493-504.
Hall, C.A.S., C. Cleveland and M. Berger. 1981. Energy return on investment for United States Petroleum, Coal and Uranium, p. 715-724. in W. Mitsch (ed.), Energy and Ecological Modeling. Symp. Proc., Elsevier Publishing Co.

Cleveland, C.J., R. Costanza, C.A.S. Hall and R. Kaufmann. 1984. Energy and the United States economy: a biophysical perspective. Science 225: 890-897.

Murphy, David J., Hall, Charles A. S. 2010. Year in review—EROI or energy return on (energy) invested. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Special Issue Ecological Economics Reviews: 1185, 102-118.

Murphy, D.J, Hall, C.A.S. 2011. Energy return on investment, peak oil, and the end of economic growth. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Special Issue on Ecological economics. 1219: 52–72.

Hall, C.A.S., and Hanson, D. (Eds.) 2011. Sustainability: Special Issue on EROI

Murphy, D., Hall, C.A.S., Cleveland, C., P. O’Conner. 2011. Order from chaos: A Preliminary Protocol for Determining EROI for Fuels. Sustainability: Special Issue on EROI. 2011. Pages 1888-1907.

Guilford, M., C.A.S., Hall, P. O’Conner, and C.J., Cleveland. 2011. A new long term assessment of EROI for U.S. oil and gas: Sustainability: Special Issue on EROI. Pages 1866-1887.

Hall, C. A. S., Dale, B. and D. Pimentel. 2011. Seeking to understand the reasons for the different EROIs of biofuels. Sustainability 2011: 2433-2442.

Prieto, P., C.A.S. Hall. 2012 Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution: The energy return on investment. Springer, N.Y.

Hall, Charles A.S., Jessica G. Lambert, Stephen B. Balogh. 2014. EROI of different fuels and the implications for society Energy Policy Energy Policy. 64,: 141–152.

Lambert, Jessica, Charles A.S. Hall, Stephen Balogh, Ajay Gupta, and Michelle Arnold. 2014. Energy, EROI and quality of life. Energy Policy Volume 64: 153-167

Hall, C.A.S. 2017. Energy Return on Investment: A unifying principle for Biology, Economics and sustainability. SpringerNature N.Y.

Palmer, G. 2017, A Framework for Incorporating EROI into Electrical Storage, BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality, vol. 2, no. 2

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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381 Responses to Energy Return on Energy Invested – Prof. Charles Hall’s Comments

  1. Harry Gibbs says:

    “The economic outlook in Germany is deteriorating with alarming speed and any mistake by policy-makers could push the country into a full-blown slump, a leading economic institute has warned.

    ““The danger of recession has increased markedly. It is a notably more critical picture than a month ago,” said the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK) in Düsseldorf.

    “The IMK’s early warning indicator said the recession risk over the next three months has jumped suddenly to 32.4pc as trade tensions mount and liquidity ebbs away in the international financial system.

    “This is higher than in March 2008 when the pre-Lehman storm clouds were gathering and the country was already sliding into a slump…

    “Germany is heavily reliant on world trade and is therefore a bellwether for the broader health of the global economy. Its industrial sector lurched abruptly from boom to bust early in the last downturn and proved to be a leading indicator for the Great Recession…

    “Crucially, the global money is slowing as quantitative easing goes into reverse, and as the Fed lifts global borrowing costs. Three-month Libor rates have jumped 60 basis points this year, hitting $9 trillion of floating contracts worldwide.

    “Simon Ward from Janus Henderson said the global economic slowdown was baked into the pie months ago when the money supply began to falter. His key indicator – six-month real M1 money – touched a nine-year low of 1pc in February…

    “The European Central Bank faces a treacherous task as it prepares to phase out QE altogether this year. It has already cut bond purchases from €80bn (£69bn) to €30bn a month. Nobody knows for sure how much damage is being caused by this reduction in the “flow” of stimulus, since few can agree intellectually on how QE actually works. The risk is that the ECB could tighten too hard and cause the current soft patch to metastasize into a full-blown downturn…”

    • germany can be looked on as a shop selling high quality exclusive goods—the best

      but the other side of that coin is that if no one can afford to buy those goods, then the german shop might as well close—they can’t sell stuff to each other, that doesn’t work

    • ““The European Central Bank faces a treacherous task as it prepares to phase out QE altogether this year. It has already cut bond purchases from €80bn (£69bn) to €30bn a month.”

      This is no doubt at least part of the problem. World oil supply is tightening now too. Not a good combination.

  2. xabier says:

    I highly recommend ‘Pax Romana’ by Goldsworthy: an excellent thematic study of the way in which Rome functioned militarily and economically at the peak- offering many parallels with today, allowing of course for the greater complexity of our civilization.

    Concise, packed with information and easy to read. It stops before the collapse phase, but does consider it briefly.

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Xabier.

      I recently enjoyed Piers Brendon’s book, “The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s.” Again the parallels with our current predicament – protectionism, sabre-rattling, worsening political polarisation etc. in the aftermath of a financial shock – are all too apparent. He writes with wonderful attention to detail.

      • xabier says:

        Thanks, I’ll look into it. The 1920’s and 30’s are certainly rich in suggestive parallels for our times.

        Spain is particularly disturbing, as the Francoists are edging back to power in the shape of the glossy new party – ‘Citizens’, how droll. Election posters have appeared reading: ‘We Never Went Away’…..

        Old-style Latin fascism apart, the saturation with propaganda which we see in the media of the ‘free’ countries is more than reminiscent of Stalinist Russia and the fascist dictatorships.

        At least we don’t have to wear uniforms and sing silly songs, for the time being.

  3. Christopher says:

    Thank you Gail for your work with clarifying our predicament!

    I was somewhat prepared for these tragic conclusions by reading Oswald Spengler in my youth. He seems to have had a great intuition for the direction of society. I’ve been playing with the thought of writing an introduction to his thoughts about history and society. But I never really have the time. I’m also rather slow in english. Instead I wrote something more like a potpourri.

    Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) was a thinker and cultural pessimist.The only book I found easily available about him in english is “Prophet of decline”, published in 2001, by John Farrenkopf. I’ve just been reading it and it’s a quite decent summary although it is really just a “brief” introduction.

    Spengler doesn’t base his analysis on energy and resources. Although, he mentions those subjects briefly.

    From Farrenkopf:

    “The awesome struggle between man and nature forms a central theme of Spengler’s historical cosmos. With the industrial revolution, this struggle escalates into a veritable war. The machine is “the most cunning of all weapons against nature that is at all possible.” …
    For Spengler, world history becomes in his late work a record of man’s tragic and ultimately disastrous effort to gain the upper hand over the natural world.”

    “Inspired of the amor fati of Nietzsche, Spengler did not espouse flight into misty agrarian-romantic utopias. Nor did he harbour that which may ultimately prove to be an illusion, namely, the notion that the destructive ecological effects of modern production and consumption can be reduced to tolerable levels. Spengler attributes to this tremendous, violent transformation of the environment through the course of world history an apocalyptic character.”

    Spengler seems to end up at the same conclusion about civilization as Gail. Furthermore he seems to reach this conclusion by other reasons than energy and resources.

    Spengler describes the dynamics of culture (I believe Spengler mentions nine different cultures in his magnum opus “Decline of the West”) from rise to fall, he calls these “historical forces” destiny. A culture is like a super-organism, it’s born, it lives and it dies in a certain pattern. This cultural dynamic can probably be interpreted as a manifestation of the thermodynamical process underlying culture. I believe it is related to what Gail wrote about physics and the economy:

    One phenomena or cause (depending on your perspective) that Spengler associates with the fall of civilisation is decadence. From Farrenkopf:

    “He [Spengler] argues that the leading intellects of future generations will turn to new life styles at odds with the futherance of industrial civilization. Youth reverts to “simpler life-styles that are closer to nature.” He pursues sport instead of scientific studies, hating the great cities and the cold atmosphere of technological organization. Youth interests himself in occultism and spiritualism and Christian and pagan metaphysical speculation. Sadly, one could add, since the sixties, he turns to alcohol, drugs and cacophonous music. “The flight of the born leaders from the machine begins.” ”

    My guess is that nowadays many born leaders also take their flight to the ivory towers of academia instead of making anything useful. Today, people with talent avoid becoming politicians or other positions that seems to burdened with responsibility. There is, or used to be, plenty of opportunity in the academia, so why choose something dirty and difficult. The academia is much larger today than 50 years ago and most of the production seems to be totally useless.

    Spengler didn’t predict the full decadence of attitude and thought constituted by political correctness. This is also a phenomenon that seems to increase the velocity of the decline.

    From Farrenkopf:
    “Key aspects of Spengler’s vision of decadence of the West include the exhaustion of its cultural traditions, the atrophy of the formative power of social traditions, the breakdown of the family unit, a downward sloping bith rate, quasi-pacifism, and hedonistic self-indulgence.”

    “The highly touted freedom of press is in reality nothing more than its cynical manipulation by plutocratic powers. The population of the West will participate less and less in elections, which from quasi-civil wars turn into comedies. The West’s more capable men will increasingly divorce themself from politics and devote themself to other pursuits. Democracy will degenerate into interest-group and money politics with an omnipresent press shaping public opinion.”

    “Moreover, Spengler’s compelling portrait of the spirit of the West illuminates its profound, subconscious, ultimately self-destructive, irrational qualities – qualities that are arguably ultimately of greater significance in determining the fate of the modern world than its rational qualities, which the Western high priests of the idea of progress have deified.”

    Some Spengler quotes:

    “The question of whether world peace will ever be possible can only be answered by someone familiar with world history. To be familiar with world history means, however, to know human beings as they have been and always will be. There is a vast difference, which most people will never comprehend, between viewing future history as it will be and viewing it as one might like it to be. Peace is a desire, war is a fact; and history has never paid heed to human desires and ideals …”

    ” Society is based on the inequality of men. This is a fact of nature.”

    ” Enthusiasm is a virtue for followers, a vice for leaders. Intelligence is more important than inspiration. ”

    “Happiness is unexpected, rare, unlikely, brief and blindly appreciated. The less men have brooded about the nature of happiness, or their right to it, the happier they have been.”

    “The common man wants nothing of life but health, longevity, amusement, comfort – “happiness.” He who does not despise this should turn his eyes from world history, for it contains nothing of the sort. The best that history has created is great suffering.”

    ” The great man lives in such a way that his existence is a sacrifice to his idea.”

    ” The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.”

    “What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears.”

    “You are caught in the current of unceasing change. Your life is a ripple in it. Every moment of your conscious life links the infinite past with the infinite future. Take part in both and you will not find the present empty.”

    “Optimis is cowardice.”

    “Formerly no one was allowed to think freely; now it is permitted, but no one is capable of it any more. Now people want to think only what they are supposed to think, and this they consider freedom.”

    “One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be – though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain – because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.

    • theblondbeast says:

      Thanks for the great quotes!

    • Interesting introduction to Spengler. I don’t think I remember hearing of him before.

    • djerek says:

      I like the extended “optimism is cowardice” quote:

      “Time does not suffer itself to be halted; there is no question of prudent retreat or wise renunciation. Only dreamers believe that there is a way out. Optimism is cowardice. We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.”

    • Spenglers take on Caeserism replacing democracy in times of trouble is also quite interesting and currently relevant. BTW John Michael Greer is a big Spengler fan. That helped him to predict a Trump presidency in times when almost everybody else thought of Trump as having zero chances and was hysterically loughing at the prospect of Trump as president.

      • djerek says:

        It’s hard to see Caesarism coming to fruition in the US though when the federal government has been aware of the possibility and purging anyone with the potential to become a caesar from the ranks of officers long before they get to 3 or 4 star generals since after WWII. Patton was basically the last potential caesar that was allowed to become a hotshot general.

      • Yorchichan says:

        Democracy is a sham. Always has been. If your vote could change anything, you wouldn’t be allowed to vote. Maintaining the sham requires a lot of energy. Once energy runs low, the sham cannot be maintained any longer so the illusion of democracy disappears.

        • yup

          as ive pointed out—democracy is a child of prosperity, without prosperity democracy becomes an orphan and starves to death.

          • djerek says:

            Representative democracy is just a sham that covers up plutocratic oligarchies anyway.

            • Yorchichan says:

              Even if true democracy were possible, it’s doubtful if it is desirable anyway. Most people are in no way qualified to decide policy and only vote for their own narrow interests. The best form of government is to have a benevolent dictator. I’m sure we can all think of many examples of such a leader from history. /sarc

            • D says:

              Funny that you mention that, just saw a video (made in 2012 but still relevant today) that shows through various statistics how the democracy in the USA is a sham.

      • Sven Røgeberg says:

        Sociologist Max Weber believed that every mass democracy went in a Caesarist direction. Professor of law Gerhard Casper writes “Weber employed the term to stress, inter alia, the plebiscitary character of elections, disdain for parliament, the non-toleration of autonomous powers within the government and a failure to attract or suffer independent political minds.”[4]
        Those german thinkers …

  4. Third World person says:

    How did Indus Valley civilisation end
    IIT-Kharagpur study points to 900-year-long drought

    Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, have claimed that the Indus Valley civilisation, which saw its doom nearly 4,350 years ago, was a result of a 900-year-long monster drought. As per the report by the Times of India, the widely-accepted theory that a 200-year-long monster drought ended the Indus Valley civilisation may just change by at least seven centuries. Scientists have gathered evidence that proves this theory.

    This long drought, as per the report, forced people to abandon their settlements in search of greener pastures and drove them towards the east and south, where rain conditions were better. As per the report, these displaced people gradually migrated towards the Ganga-Yamuna valley towards eastern and central Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal in the east and Madhya Pradesh, south of Vindhyachal and south Gujarat in the south.

    After studying the monsoon’s variability for the past 5,000 years, the researchers from the geology and geophysics department are now certain that for 900 long years, the rains played truant in the North-West Himalayas. This eventually dried up the source of water which fed the rivers along which the civilisation thrived. Archaeologists and historians also found that the Indus Valley civilisation was not only limited to the banks of the Indus but had footprints along the rivers like Ravi, Chenab, Beas and Sutlej as well.

    this thing also happen in Syria pushes people to urban cities
    when agriculture was collapse in the country

    • and the climate change deniers will point to this, jump up and down—and say—-”see—it’s all happened before”

      back then there might have been a few hundred thousand people dependent on those waters

      now there’s maybe 200 million

      that’s why there can be no real comparison

      • JesseJames says:

        No one denies natural … always occurring climate change. Only go oob. All Ww war. Mists deny natural change, only insisting that man is changing it now.

      • xabier says:

        We tend now to want to knuckle down in our mega-cities, an inflexible stance, but the secret of human survival so far has been the movement of tribes and clans -implying, incidentally, the movement only of the fittest and most adaptable (and ruthless?) – in a resource-rich planet, even if it was at an early date greatly modified by human activity and thereby reduced in bio-diversity.

        • problem is the city is now seen as the ”prosperous normal” but cities are a construct of finite energy

          they worked when they were constructed of trees and hand cut stone—now fossil fuels have added an unreal dimension that few recognise

        • Right. I think even in hunter-gatherer days, some horticulture was practiced. Seeds were purposely planted, so when a group came back later, plants of the desired type would be available. We were adjusting the planet to our needs very early.

          • xabier says:

            It would appear that ancient tribes, and great empires like Rome, also maintained substantial ‘no-man’s land’ border zones, which were not cultivated or settled.

            The military ability to preserve these zones indicated both power and also served as a buffer-zone in conflicts.

            It must also have helped to preserve bio-diversity to some extent.

            And yet today so many people just can’t see the impact industrial agriculture, road-building and over-population have had: when articles are published on the ‘need’ for more mass housing in Britain, invariably the ‘we’ve only built on 10% of the land, so lots more is available’ argument is deployed.

            • Good point!

            • England had lots of common land until the 18th c….then the population started to grow and those in power realised that that land could be used to make money, so the enclosure acts were introduced

            • China has been selling off its commonly owned land in recent years, to fund some of its expansion. No need to collect tax revenue, if the state can sell off farmland instead.

            • Artleads says:

              Infinite growth on a finite planet. Hmmm, let’s see…Actually there is almost infinite built space to subdivide within urban areas. That’s where design and planning, also in short supply, come in.

      • doomphd says:

        the Triassic Period happened before too. we don’t want to return there.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        It does not matter if 200m or 20 are affected… it has all happened before… and it was and is not caused by man’s activities… it is caused by phenomenon that are totally out of our control — including the slight wobble of the earth over time … changes in the sun… one can easily imagine that a very slight change involving either of those two… would have dramatic implications for the earth’s kkkklimate.

        Gooobble Wooomming is a ho ax…

        Gail has explained the reason for it many times… as has Fast Eddy…. it is good that people believe in ggeebl weeeming…. it is all part of the Package of Hope… (EV’s solar Elon technology)

    • It is impossible to get along without water. Ecosystems end when climate changes, as well.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      They must have been burning coal… had to have…. we all know the kkkklimate does NOT change… it is totally stable … unless man gets involved

  5. Kurt says:

    Brent at 72.58. Just sayin…

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      yup… still way below $100…

      now 71.70…

      lately, I’ve been moving towards the opinion that the direction of oil prices is mostly unpredictable…

      the world economy is just too complex…

      $59 or $80 are possibilities for later this year…

  6. Third World person says:

    Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south.

    in America, the world’s richest country, hookworm, a parasitic disease found in areas of extreme poverty, is rampant, the first study of its kind in modern times shows

    Children playing feet away from open pools of raw sewage; drinking water pumped beside cracked pipes of untreated waste; human faeces flushed back into kitchen sinks and bathtubs whenever the rains come; people testing positive for hookworm, an intestinal parasite that thrives on extreme poverty.

    These are the findings of a new study into endemic tropical diseases, not in places usually associated with them in the developing world of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, but in a corner of the richest nation on earth: Alabama.

    Scientists in Houston, Texas, have lifted the lid on one of America’s darkest and deepest secrets: that hidden beneath fabulous wealth, the US tolerates poverty-related illness at levels comparable to the world’s poorest countries. More than one in three people sampled in a poor area of Alabama tested positive for traces of hookworm, a gastrointestinal parasite that was thought to have been eradicated from the US decades ago.

    The long-awaited findings, revealed by the Guardian for the first time, are a wake-up call for the world’s only superpower as it grapples with growing inequality. Donald Trump has promised to “Make America Great Again” and tackle the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but he has said very little about enduring chronic poverty, particularly in the southern states.

    The study, the first of its kind in modern times, was carried out by the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in conjunction with Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE), a non-profit group seeking to address the root causes of poverty. In a survey of people living in Lowndes County, an area with a long history of racial discrimination and inequality, it found that 34% tested positive for genetic traces of Necator americanus

    when bau will collapsed these diseases will be back in all over the world

    • which fits in with what i keeping banging on about

      a nation is held together by its energy input/availability—repairing sewage/water systems should be top priority, but those services are dissipated and so unseen

      as an example of what needs to be done read this

      nothing will be done of course, until something really nasty breaks out—and by then it will be too late, because, just like sewage and water, healthcare is the product of energy input/availability.

      cut off surplus energy and medical care reverts to that of the tribal witch doctor./

    • Fast Eddy says:

      When BAU goes… we will be overwhelmed with diseases…. epidemics… this is going to make the plagues of history look benign….

      Oh but of course Mr Doomie Prepper living in la la land aka Little House on the Hobby Farm… will be immune…

      The hordes will respect the No Trespassing Sign —- as will the vile diseases that will spread like wildfire…

  7. Third World person says:

    The Mafia And A Nigerian Gang Are Targeting Refugees In Sicily
    They’ve fled violence, poverty, and terrorism – and made the often perilous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East. But for the more than 100,000 migrants who’ve arrived in Italy so far this year, the life that awaits them can be almost as dangerous as the one they left behind.

    This is particularly true for economic migrants, who don’t have the same legal status as refugees, and aren’t given the same work permits or financial aid to help them survive. Barred from the legal workforce, and with few financial options, many are targeted by criminal gangs — supported by the Italian mafia — and thrust into a life of sex slavery and drug trafficking

    funny thing is i was talking with Italian person on internet
    he was saying that Italy mafia do not like Nigerian Gangs because
    they are cutting share of there business in almost everything so
    mafia want government to deported these Nigerian Gangs back to there country

    • xabier says:

      It seems they – the Nigerian gangs – also use threats of magical curses to control their slaves, and it seems to work. There was a Guardian article about that not so long ago.

      The Italian authorities are employing psychologists to persuade them that curses are not real and there is nothing to fear -not supernatural, anyway.

      Child sacrifice has also, it would appear, returned to London, courtesy of African migrants – the odd dismembered body of an African child turns up now and then.

      • Artleads says:

        Are these happenings evaluated in terms of different African cultures, or by gender?

        • xabier says:

          The people using curses and magic to control prostitutes and slave workers in agriculture were identified as Nigerians.

          Another example of the immense cruelty of human beings when there is money to be made.

          • Artleads says:

            Nigerians have a bad reputation that way, despite (I’m told) Nigeria being a rather sophisticated country on the whole. I suppose that very bothersome aspect has to do with inequality and resulting desperation? Other contributing aspects too, of course.

    • I put together a chart to illustrate part of the problem that is occurring. The chart shows per capita energy consumption of Italy versus Africa.

      Per capita energy consumption of Italy vs Africa

      From the point of view of Africans, Italy’s per capita energy consumption is very high. From the point of view of Italians, its people have been getting poorer, because of falling energy consumption per capita. The peak in Italy’s energy consumption per capita came in 2004. Getting poorer means that it is harder for young people to find jobs that pay well. If we believe UN population data, Italy’s population has been falling since 2011. I haven’t looked at population by age group, but I would expect that working age population has been dropping. There don’t seem to be enough jobs that pay well to encourage people to have big families.

      African population, on the other hand, has been exploding. African population has increased by 77% between 1995 and 2016. Resources per capita has stayed level, saying that relative to population, higher energy-use industries have not been added. Roads basically have remained in poor condition. Africans get some benefit of the goods and services from the West, but a lot of this relates to preventing deaths, so population has exploded. Africa’s population is now about 11 times than of Italy. If we look at Angus Maddison’s population estimates of population at the year 1 C.E., he believed that Africa’s population was then a little more than double that of Italy. (Africa 17 million; Italy 8 million in Year 1. China and India were far larger than either, back in Year 1 C. E.)

      The huge growth in population of Africa means that the land is much more densely populated than in the past. It needs a lot more than cast-offs from the rich world, if its huge population is to fit in with the rest of the world. The cute little solar light bulbs can make life a bit more pleasant for people, but it doesn’t come close to fixing its basic problems. It doesn’t allow these countries to have democratic governments. (More energy per capita is needed for that.)

      I referenced in another comment a quote I found saying, ” According to the same PBS article, in 1967, the controversy over the pill took on a new dimension when African-American activists charge that Planned Parenthood, by providing the pill in poor, minority neighborhoods, is committing genocide.” If handing our contraceptives was a problem in the US, a person can imagine the difficulty in Africa.

      By the way, there is sort of a peak in Africa’s per capita energy consumption. It comes in 2008. The slight downward trend in per capita consumption since 2008 puts pressure on people to migrate away from Africa to places with better opportunities. In fact, most of the drop in per capita energy consumption has come in 2015, 2016 (and, if we had data) in 2017, because of lower oil and other commodity prices.

      • which seems to follow on after the west’s crash of 2007.

        the ”arab spring” of 2010 also followed in the wake of that—sort of ripples spreading outwards

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        “From the point of view of Africans, Italy’s per capita energy consumption is very high. From the point of view of Italians, its people have been getting poorer, because of falling energy consumption per capita.”

        Which just goes to show that how wealthy one feels is at least partly a question of perspective. I think Venezuelans have found their economic predicament especially traumatising because they have known what is to be wealthy and then experienced a relatively sudden reversal in fortunes.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          The Italians are the shortest people in Europe. The Dutch and the Swedish are the tallest.
          There is a reason:

          • The theory: US wage disparity seems to affect growth.

            • nutrition affects growth—and that depends on income

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              The US is getting shorter, while Europe is getting taller.
              Europe maxed out in 800 AD, and just recently has gained it back.
              The US is losing height, , and if you look at the data, intelligence –

            • Thinking about the situation, it is not just that poor people are priced out of buying better-quality food, it is that the model for good eating is just plain wrong.

              Everywhere a person goes, a person sees oversized cookies and muffins. If a person orders a sandwich, the default seems to be “with added chips,” with lots of calories, and limited nutritional value. Portion sizes in restaurants tend to be way too large. An awfully lot of food a person buys in the grocery store has a lot of added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. There are so many overweight people that being a little overweight makes a person fit in better with everyone else.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I remember primary school… there were maybe a handful of fat kids… they were teased…

              If BAU were not to collapse for say another 25 years… we would get to the point where there would only be a few fit kids in primary school… and they would be mocked

              It is a good thing that we are headed for extinction .. I can’t think of even one good reason to justify our continued existence.

              As a species… we are vile… disgusting… monsters

            • JMS says:


          • xabier says:

            The greatest Casanova I’ve ever met was a tiny round Columbian named Ivan: for some reason women fell for him in droves, and his wife had an awful lot to put up with.

            Perhaps Italians and other Latins can console themselves with this.

        • Artleads says:


        • DJ says:

          How much infrastructure, administration, housing standard, location of work (if any…) in relation to homes makes it hard lowering living standard.

      • Sven Røgeberg says:

        «Africa’s population is now about 11 times than of Italy.» It would be nice if you were right. Unfortunately the factor is at least 20:

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Hungry extremely violent gangs post BAU… wonder where they will go looking for food?????

  8. Harry Gibbs says:

    “Deep down, the IMF thinks the recovery from the 2008 financial crash is fragile and incomplete. It is fragile because a decade of cheap money has left the global economy wallowing in $164 trillion of private and public debt – an all-time high. It is incomplete because too many people have been left behind during the upswing that followed the deep recession of 2008-09.”

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      And some countries never really recovered at all:

      “Italy’s long-term economic underperformance is so severe and deep-rooted that the current cyclical upswing barely makes a dent. Consider: Real per capita income last year was barely above the 1998 level. That means living standards are roughly the same as they were twenty years ago.”

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        “At the end of 2009, as Greek bondholders were beginning to worry about a possible debt crisis, Greece’s central government debt stood at about 300 billion euros, roughly 130 percent of gross domestic product. Its fiscal deficit for the same year had been over 15 percent of GDP. A few months later, Greece lost market access and entered an adjustment program, financed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), aimed at gradually eliminating its deficit and restoring the sustainability of Greece’s public debts.

        “By 2016, Greece had achieved a small fiscal surplus. But its central government debt continued to rise – by about 10 percent in nominal terms, and much more dramatically as a share of GDP, before stabilizing at around 180 percent of GDP. This happened despite three successive economic adjustment and reform programs and several rounds of debt relief – including a 2012 bond restructuring that cut the face value of Greece’s debt by 107 billion euros.”

      • Too bad these people don’t think about energy consumption per capita.

        • have you ever tried discussing something like ”energy per capita” with anyone not specifically aware of or involved in the stuff that gets discussed here and elsewhere?

          • theblondbeast says:

            Yep – People think in terms of “technology” because it flatters our sense of vanity. Thinking of the economy and the future in terms of “let’s all try to consume more resources” leads to thinking of oneself in less flattering terms.

            Most people can’t really define the economy. I like this definition: “The economy is comprised of the production and exchange of goods and services through the application of energy and labor to resources and activities, as represented by money.” (C) theblondbeast

            • Mark says:

              This always cracks me up. (BTW, posts and comments have been great)

            • “The economy is comprised of the production and exchange of goods and services through the application of energy and labor to resources and activities, as represented by money.”

              That is a great definition.

          • A person would hope actuaries would get the idea.

        • Artleads says:

          It’s one of the least intuitive things to understand. Just checking if I’m anywhere close: More energy per capita means more demand? Really sorry. I know you’ve explained it a few million times.

          • Energy is what goes into creating jobs that pay well. Goods are made with a combination of (human labor + supplemental energy).

            If supplemental energy is rising relative to human labor, we are in good shape. Human labor can be leveraged with more and more tools of various types, such as computers and bigger trucks. If supplemental energy is falling relative to labor, we end up with an increasing proportion of low-paid service jobs. Lots of greeters at Walmart, but not much else available for jobs.

            We need jobs that pay well is what give rise to “demand.” A person with a job that pays well can afford new cars and often a larger home. Also, that person can afford to have children. A family that has only one child ultimately leads to a situation with less demand, because one person, on average uses less resources than two or more.

            • Artleads says:

              Thanks! I’ll cut and paste this somewhere where I hope I’ll remember to look in my inevitable lapse of understanding in the future.

              Trying to figure out why it doesn’t connect and stick is because the implied future with that cheap supplemental energy doesn’t work long term either. More cars and bigger houses (if not more kids–an issue I can’t wrap my mind around) mean more depletion of living systems, and I see all living systems as being already catastrophically depleted.

    • Italy and Greece are (unwittingly) fitting into my universal law of nations:

      They just the early one—all nations will follow suit in time

    • The debt is promises of future goods and services made with energy. If things were going downhill at a price that were reasonably close to what producers need in the 2011-2012 timeframe, how can they expect to ever expand, or repay debt with interest?

      • Artleads says:

        To the uninitiated, another level explanation might be needed. Who :”is promised future goods and services made with energy?”

        • the promise is to ourselves

          we all expect that.

          it’s important to mentally move away from ”goods” as cars and coffee makers—-goods means everything—your roads, healthcare, schools.

          nothing is exempt from the future energy dead end trap

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    I am in the Delhi airport … contemplating human nature after getting off a flight from Tashkent on the way to Hong Kong….

    I noticed that in general Uzbek people are polite… friendly…. however there are quite a few who will just push in front of a queue without a second thought …. we encountered that a number of times at the airport check in and immigration ….

    And as soon as the plane landed it was like the Mongol Hordes had been unleashed… the wheels had barely touched the tarmac and dozens of people were ignoring the flight attendants and hauling down bags from the overheads….

    As I observed this behaviour I was thinking …. humans are not any different than wild animals… or at least untrained animals…

    If we are not taught certain behaviours … then it’s basically a free for all – f789 everyone and any rules they try to impose….

    One may think these people rude… I do not. . I see them as no different than untrained dogs…. who are just doing what untrained dogs would do….

    To be honest … I feel like barging to the front of the line as well… and taking my bags down whenever it pleases me……but I am a well-trained dog… I know to heel….

    I have also noticed this sort of behaviour in China…. the behaviour changes dramatically when such people emigrate to a place with more established rules of etiquette….

    You can teach old dogs new tricks

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      As a tourist provider (Guam- diving/fishing) I have observed many cultures. Japanese are the most civilized, and easy to take.
      Chinese or Korean? Cattle probes are more needed than correct speech.

      • SomeoneInAsia says:

        There’s a reason why I’d prefer not to be associated with the mainland Chinese. (I’m a Singaporean of Chinese descent.)

        Not that any of this is going to matter anymore after SHTF, of course. ‘cos by then most of us will become very rabid dogs indeed.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Yep… neighbours will be at each others throats — regardless of shared ethnicity/culture….

          Confucius say: When there are few bones… and many dogs… decorum gets tossed out the window… and your neighbour is chasing your children down the street with a meat cleaver and a salt shaker

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          Half my extended family is Chinese, with a grandchild living with us when we were in Marin.

      • Third World person says:

        japanese are civilzed ?

        i do not think so after see how they government have handle the FUKUSHIMA’S disaster
        especially throw nuclear fuel in Pacific ocean

    • xabier says:

      FE, try taking a flight with Irish Gypsies if you want to see real anarchy – most amusing one I’ve ever been on. Complete with priest and two African nuns, going to Lourdes.

      We are overwhelmed with tourists here, and I have to say the Chinese (all year-round these days) are my favourites, as they never barge or jostle you on the narrow pavements, and very rarely stand arrogantly in the way to take a photo, etc. You think a collision is coming, and it somehow doesn’t happen. The same for the rare Japanese groups.

      The manners of young Europeans are, in general, simply appalling: Spanish, Italians, French. Uncouth pavement-hoggers, loud, conceited. Scandinavians, Dutch and Germans are -marginally – better.

      As for Arabs and other Levantine types, my God! But most of those kids look inbred and mentally subnormal, attending the language schools.

      Americans are also noticeably more polite than Europeans, sometimes very much so in an old-fashioned way. They are mostly well-off, here for the Summer School, and behave more modestly than the Euro Brats.

      Overall they (the Brats) give the impression of being a very spoiled and indulged generation.

      The English are these days rather surprised when they are treated politely by a stranger, life has become so stressful and crude here.

      Nothing like people-watching…… 🙂

      • now there just has to be a sitcom with a gang of irish gypsies, 2 african nuns and a priest going to lourdes

        • xabier says:

          It would be good, ‘Father Ted’ with a difference. We first became aware of the Gypsies due to the strong smell of spilt beer – it lay in pools around the men, with discarded bottles: they clearly had to do something while waiting to check-in to the Ryan Air flight to Bairritz.

          They refused to use seat belts when taking off and landing, and during turbulence, and passed their babies and small kids around over the seats with gay abandon.

          The priest and nuns seemed used to it. It actually looked like quite good fun to go through life like that, not giving a damn. They didn’t cause any trouble to anyone else.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        ‘kids ARE inbred and mentally subnormal’…

    • Artleads says:

      It’s still just rudeness in the long run. Not to be condoned in it’s formative stages, which is the only time you can change it. Too much energy to change it later.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Nah… it’s just lack of training … one only needs to observe young children … they are essentially wild beasts until they are trained…. if they get no training then what I observed in some adults in Uzbekistan is what you get

        • xabier says:

          Like dogs, one has to train them to hand and voice signals very early indeed, then it’s plain sailing later on. I hate slapping puppies on the muzzle, but, if applied early and consistently, they learn fast.

          I don’t think I’d do very well at teaching training college…. 🙂

          • Artleads says:

            I spent years as a substitute teacher in a tough minority city that had once been the murder capital of the US. I suffered extremely and it was either I’d go down in flames or I’d learn to keep order. I learned to keep order. On the way to that, however, I got into a fight with a 14 year old who was 10 times stronger than I would have thought, and so I decided I’d stick to the younger ones–K-3–the ones I could lift. An experienced teacher early in my struggles implied the following: You start the year off like Dracula, and by year’s end you’re smiling and relaxed. I ran later summer camps that way, and I would want to club some effing snowflake who disagreed with my methods and suggested the kids should have “fun.” No bloody way! But my way they actually DID end up having fun. Odd.

            • you have my sincere admiration Artleads

              back in my day, the headmaster wielded a cane and wasn’t afraid to use it—-with the support of parents, (including mine)

              though having said that, I always had the feeling that he genuinely cared about the future of us young hooligans—I still remember him that way

    • podshosdu07865 says:

      Just be glad there was a Q (line). Quite honestly they probably expected you to bang to the front and thought you a punk because you didn’t. You have been around enough to know that ….surprised… The veneer is thin where resources are scarce.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Those doing this were in the small minority …. most Uzbeks are fairly well trained… they have plenty of gas so that has been helpful.

  10. Ed says:

    Time for Russia to stop selling gas and oil to England and France.

    • No, the right time will come when their money is no longer deemed credible, necessary.
      And that lays in relatively distant future (decades) as “the rich” in each country (incl. Russia, China, Gulfies) today simply demand and cherish to swim in this rotten swamp..

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      winter, peak season for gas demand(?), has now ended…

      but, Putin seems to have the necessary patience…

      next winter, perhaps Russian gas will be in lower supply and at a higher price…

  11. Yoshua says:

    Putin forced Trump to bomb Assad.

    The U.S launched missile strikes against Syria.
    Russia intercepted the missiles.
    Pentagon has been humiliated.

    America is now officially a banana republic.
    This will have “serious consequences”.

    The markets will crash come Monday.

  12. jupiviv says:

    Interesting thought – as more energy goes into the running of a civilisation, more energy is also required to disperse that energy throughout that civilisation. The energy required to disperse energy increases as more energy is generated, and eventually it approaches the energy required to generate energy and no more energy can be generated = equilibrium state.

    The only way to put this off (it cannot be avoided) is the drastic reduction of energy dispersal, and yet all techno-optimists – from neoliberals to wannabe AI barons – propose solutions where precisely the opposite is done. Machine utopias where robots do all the work for a small high-tech civilisation, or Star Trek fantasies where the mass-energy conversion going into a cup of Earl Grey makes the Tsar bomb look like a party popper. The reason for that is simple – these people are themselves a part of the turgid energy dispersal system.

  13. Lastcall says:

    Whats with the obsession with the USA military and the phrase ‘Mission Accomplished’; too much mission impossible as kids?
    That photo of G Bush and Mission Accomplished must rate as a great Onion piece.
    In my very distant and humble opinion its the Russians that have accomplished, not the tripartite patsy missile strike; there was minimal disruption and the warnings fro Russia were heeded. Am I misreading it?

  14. Fast Eddy says:

    Lavrov: Swiss lab says ‘BZ toxin’ used in Salisbury, not produced in Russia, was in US & UK service

    The substance used on Sergei Skripal was an agent called BZ, according to Swiss state Spiez lab, the Russian foreign minister said. The toxin was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other NATO states.

    Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing the results of the examination conducted by a Swiss chemical lab that worked with the samples that London handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

    The Swiss center sent the results to the OPCW. However, the UN chemical watchdog limited itself only to confirming the formula of the substance used to poison the Skripals in its final report without mentioning anything about the other facts presented in the Swiss document, the Russian foreign minister added. He went on to say that Moscow would ask the OPCW about its decision to not include any other information provided by the Swiss in its report.

    Lavrov said that the Swiss center that assessed the samples is actually the Spiez Laboratory. This facility is a Swiss state research center controlled by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and, ultimately, by the country’s defense minister. The lab is also an internationally recognized center of excellence in the field of the nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and is one of the five centers permanently authorized by the OPCW.

    The Russian foreign minister said that London refused to answer dozens of “very specific” questions asked by Moscow about the Salisbury case, as well as to provide any substantial evidence that could shed light on the incident. Instead, the UK accused Russia of failing to answer its own questions, he said, adding that, in fact, London did not ask any questions but wanted Moscow to admit that it was responsible for the delivery of the chemical agent to the UK.

    The scandal erupted in early March, when former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found in critical condition in the town of Salisbury. Top UK officials almost immediately pinned the blame on Russia.

    Moscow believes that the entire Skripal case lacks transparency and that the UK is in fact not interested in an independent inquiry. “We get the impression that the British government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making a transparent investigation impossible,” the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, said during a press conference on Friday.

  15. Fast Eddy says:

    Salisbury attack: Russia claims Skripals were poisoned using toxin possessed by UK and US

    Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Swiss lab found substance that was not novichok nerve agent

    Russia’s foreign minister has claimed Sergei and Yulia Skripal were not poisoned by nerve agent novichok, but a separate chemical possessed by the UK and US.

    Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had received information from a laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland suggesting the Russian double agent and his daughter were exposed to a non-lethal substance known as BZ.

    He claimed the laboratory had passed Russia confidential information after analysing samples of the agent used in the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury last month.

    Mr Lavrov said the toxin was not produced in Russia, but was in service in Britain, the United States and other Nato nations, Russian state media reported.

    “Based on the results of the examination, traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursors, related to chemical weapons of the second category in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, were found in the samples,” Mr Lavrov said, according to state-owned Sputnik News.

    “BZ is a nerve agent temporarily disabling a person. The effect is achieved within 30-50 minutes and lasts up to four days.”

    • xabier says:

      By chance I’ve been reading a memoir by a British Guards officer, and he describes his basic training at the Sandhurst academy: they were informed that a true battlefield nerve agent is designed to incapacitate in 2 seconds, kill within 10.

      ‘Nerve agent’; is of course a very broad term, as is ‘chemical weapons’, now used by the awful Teresa May.

      I was exposed to chlorine as a school child, when some municipal cretin overdid the dose at the swimming baths – barely able to open our eyes, we snaked back to school holding on to one another, as per WW1.

      In a way, it’s pleasing to see how quickly this whole thing has disintegrated under wider scrutiny.

      • Sungr says:

        Just noting…. the Russkies know how to do a proper assassination.

        I noted that all kinds of responders, etc were also being sickened just by being in the attack area. It would be extremely sloppy work for a Russian assassination team to hit the targets and proceed to leave lethal contamination all over the public park- but did not even kill the targets. This really looks like a dramatized event staged by western stooges who want to represent the Russkies as some kind of primal evil force- sort of like the WWs propaganda worked.

        Past foreign assassinations by Russians via poisons- it is usually not even understood what hit the guy until long after the victim is dead or nearly so.

        • doomphd says:

          the Po-210 hit was pretty effective. but, the assassins left a trail that was even traced to their plane seats, once they figured out the poison.

        • xabier says:

          It was, I feel, mostly about further building Putin’s profile as Global Evil Genius, and it also had the domestic objective of further embarrassing Jeremy Corbyn.

          The Establishment clearly does not want a Labour (old-style) victory next time around.

          Two birds with one stone,as it were…..

      • doomphd says:

        make it multiple choice FE, it’ll be easier to guess at than short answer.

  16. Fast Eddy says:

    The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard.

    A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.

    All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.

    Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.

    The U.S. – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.

    Come on Vlad… lob a nuke into Israel… target the Knesset… how cool would that be

    • thestarl says:

      Well what choice does he have? He would no that if he doesn’t respond it only gets worse with no chance of rationality from the Elders.To me Fast he has a simple choice to make submit or fight.
      What will he do?

    • The ClubMed area has been Anglo-American/French possession for centuries, it was obvious that warm water port (and client state such as Syria) there won’t be allowed or tolerated for Russia.

      It was long painstaking campaign to turn around that “civil war” in Syria, so now El ders at least kicked some ankles/big eye on Putin’s face.

      The Russian military enclave has not been targeted nor theirs up to date AA activated, and generation or more old AA equipment from USSR in hands of Syrian side downed some limited %portion of the incoming missiles.

      Russia is still buried in underdog position, priority is on finishing projects first, like the natgas pipeline to China and or another gas link to Germany, ..

      => Summary, yet another confirmation don’t expect to happen anything major prior mid 2020s – early 2030s, everything is under control..

      => You might want to buy some Rubles on continued Monday’s slump.. lolz…

      • jupiviv says:

        I’ve got a different perspective. There are no Elllddurrs/elites capable of *remotely successfully* orchestrating/planning geopolitics on the scale and intensity you describe.

        Rather, war rhetoric and posturing by any side is seized upon by all sides as an opportunity to rally support for various policies/narratives. And then, someday, somehow, things get real and everyone is left wondering how everyone else could have allowed it to happen.

      • xabier says:

        Spot on, worldof.

        Denying Russia power in that region has been a basic principle of western European ( and US) foreign policy for about 150 years – never expressly and publicly stated, but real none the less, like the late-20th century policy stuffing of Europe with dirt-cheap Asian and African ‘labour’ (in fact,as we know, low-level consumers) to keep the debt machine running.

        The attempt to seize the important Crimean base from Russia has, and lure him into a European land war, for the time being, failed, and was very adroitly managed by Putin. But no doubt the assault will be renewed.

        We shall see what they come up with next in the campaign to destroy Russia as a regional power and put a western-orientated clique in power there.

        Iran is still also on the list, and then the pivot to contain growing Chinese naval power in Asia, and commercial/military expansion in Africa, etc.

        Neutralising Russia, and the same for Iran, is the precursor to dealing with China and retaining US dominance over the shipping lanes of the world – as they were once controlled by the omni-present Royal Navy.

        Putin as ‘the new Hitler’ or ‘new Stalin’ , bent on imperial expansion, is just a silly propaganda meme conjured up to disguise this logical strategy, in geo-strategic. As is concern for ‘the children of Siria’…….

        • xabier says:

          ‘in geo-strategic terms’.

        • Lastcall says:

          Echo’s of the end days of the Roman Empire; internal feuding, too many enemies on too many fronts, and the big one, a disenfranchised domestic population. I think they believe they don’t need people to fight their wars, just technology.

          • adonis says:

            weve all been worried about a financial system collapse when the real danger is a nuclear exchange between two superpowers russia and usa imagine 1500 nuclear warheads being launched simultaneously from both countries to each other there wont be much of a world left then this is the real danger now we are so close to MAD {mutually assured destruction}

            • None of us will need to worry about starving to death, if this happens.

            • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

              “weve all been worried about a financial system collapse when the real danger is a nuclear exchange…”


              I don’t see a distinction between eternal death after a system collapse or after a nuclear exchange…

              am I missing something?

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          “The attempt to seize the important Crimean base from Russia has, and lure him into a European land war, for the time being, failed, and was very adroitly managed by Putin. But no doubt the assault will be renewed.”

          Well, it has been a Russian possession about the same time the US has existed.
          It was given to the Ukraine in a overture that never imagined the collapse of the Soviet Empire. 90% of the Ukraine are Russian, and Russian speaking. I have sympathy for the 10% of the population that have other opinions. But a warm water Russian Port——

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            “90% of the Ukraine are Russian, and Russian speaking.”
            90% of Crimea is Russian and Russian Speaking.

            • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:


              in addition to language and culture, most of the Crimean population certainly prefers being part of FF rich Russia and not part of quasi-collapsing Ukraine…

              but why has Ukraine been pushed towards collapse?

              oh, just another consequence of actions from the west?

        • Artleads says:

          America is like a lumbering elephant that might chose to lie down and crush people where they’re sleeping. That’s dangerous. The UK and France are actually smarter, and very devious. A scarier kind of dangerous. From an African perspective, the US taking on China (which is doing an efficient new take on neocolonialism) doesn’t seem so bad to me. I’d be slightly less uneasy about America than China or the former colonial powers (who kept all the records and know all the secrets…). But the melting pot would have to be prepared much better than it is now not to mindlessly crush and root out every living thing.

  17. Lastcall says:

    What better way to hide yours lies and crimes than with bombs and blood. meet the new boss…

  18. Fast Eddy says:

    The U.S., U.K. and France launched targeted missile strikes on Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad on a rebel town.

    Few will question this assertion … even fewer will register the lack of logic in using CW when the US just said they were pulling out of Syria… and for those that do question any of this — big f789ing deal…. what can they do? What will they do? Riot in America the UK and France?

    Nah… they’ll take to their favourite blog and vent… they’ll post on social media…

    And that will be the end of it.

    Democracy … how quaint. How ridiculous.

  19. Ed says:

    Will Putin respond? Time to fish or cut bait.

  20. adonis says:

    The reason i believe that Global Warming is just code for Peak Oil = ‘The good news is that it is still possible to
    meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions
    begin to fall by 2020 (see ‘Carbon crunch’).
    Greenhouse-gas emissions are already
    decoupling from production and consumption.
    For the past three years, worldwide
    CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have stayed
    flat, while the global economy and the gross
    domestic product (GDP) of major developed
    and developing nations have grown by at least
    3.1% per year(see
    This is only the fourth occasion in the past
    40 years on which emission levels have stagnated
    or fallen. The previous three instances
    — in the early 1980s, 1992 and 2009 — were
    associated with global economic predicaments,
    but the current one is not’

  21. Gregg Senne says:

    All tools wear out.

    • Jarvis says:

      and the cities they build need to be rebuilt every 80 years or so…..

      • David Creighton Samuels says:

        Indeed they do. A lot of people, who don’t have a professional connection to the maintenance of infrastructure, don’t realize how much maintenance is required for most of the structures that they use. Skyscrappers are the greatest of the maintenance problems, as they require so much ongoing and regular maintenance that many could be considered to have been rebuilt while in use about every 40-60 years; even if the actual structure has been standing for 100+. The same can be said for roads & bridges. Although all they do is stand there an hold up cars, Concrete slowly decays and cracks, and if not patched, will suffer from the freeze-thaw cycle that creates potholes every winter; worse if moisture makes it deep enough to contact the encapsulated steel rebar sub-structure, as nothing can prevent it from corroding and busting the concrete from within, eventually. We could delay some of the breakdown of the infrastructure if we had a legal/political system flexible enough to permit a shift to less maintenance intensive uses, but we don’t. We *could* leverage self-driving & self-balancing technologies to create a modern version of this…

        …and rebuild our roads so that there is only two tracks of hard surface exactly there the self-driving cars would put their tires, and thus reduce the road “surface” by about 80%; but we won’t.

        • JT Roberts says:

          Great article

        • Good points! Also, Low tech magazine has a lot of good articles.

          I remember the Chinese Wheelbarrow article–a way to adapt to lesser energy availability. According to the wheelbarrow article,

          The one-wheeled vehicle appeared around the time the extensive Ancient Chinese road infrastructure began to disintegrate. Instead of holding on to carts, wagons and wide paved roads, the Chinese turned their focus to a much more easily maintainable network of narrow paths designed for wheelbarrows. The Europeans, faced with similar problems at the time, did not adapt and subsequently lost the option of smooth land transportation for almost one thousand years.

        • smite says:

          Self drivning automobiles owned and operated by plebs. What an oxymoron. How about trains and bicycles?

          Freakin’ old school track following locomotives – no need for advanced electronic gizmos to keep the jank on the road if you are bound by rail.

          Trains and bicycles are rudimentary devices. Properly built, maintained and operated they can be made to last one human lifetime at least. The tech is better used elsewhere than in insane mass production of physical goods.

          Another thing, how about getting the useless eater consumerist fatsos cranking out some serious wattage as they commute to “work”. It works for me, it surely will work for you.

          It’s time to dust off and prioritize the most energy effective means of mass transport which is track bound steel wheeled vehicles and self propelled bicycles.

          • if tech isnt use to produce physical goods, what would it be used for?

            • smite says:

              How about tech that creates tech. Software that writes software.
              Physical items (guns, factories, etc) will only be built when the energy expenditure is motivated by survival of the fittest algorithms owned by the elites that run this joint.

              Do you actually still think your consumerism is beneficial to the system?

            • Software that writes software to do useful things is still a long ways off. I have a son who worked on a little of this in 2017. Exercise in frustration. Of course, to do this requires more and more computing power. The cloud gets more and more overloaded.

              All of these efforts soon reach limits. Self driving cars get hot from all of the computations done, and wear down batteries quickly. We become over dependent on grid electricity to keep the whole system going.

            • not my consumerism—it belongs to all of us, part of what we are

              using software to write software—i dont quite get that.

              ultimately we are here to eat and reproduce ourselves, everything else is window dressing—software writing software, or tech producing tech might be very clever, but ultimately pointless if it doesn’t contribute to the above in real terms.

              otherwise your comment lost me

          • Sungr says:

            A semi truck can carry 40,000lb of cargo and travel at 75mph.

            A bicycle can carry 40lb of cargo and travel at 7mph.

            It would take 1,000 bicycles to replace the semi-truck load and the load would arrive weeks later by bicycle.

    • houtskool says:

      Some faster than others.

  22. jupiviv says:

    Steve from Economic undertow has a new post up:

    Perhaps apt to the discussion of EROEI, and especially to ideas that we can get by on lower returns by swiftly adopting parsimony regarding one or other activity as/when required on a mass scale:

    “When everything is a non-sequitur, the term loses its meaning. It is context-dependent … from a distance madness follows its own internal logic, taking on the form of sanity;

    We are so good at fooling ourselves we are convinced we can outwit physical forces holding the entire human science experiment over the fire. Who is in the camp and who is out? The answer is … it really doesn’t matter.”

  23. jupiviv says:

    I appreciate Hall’s willingness to engage with Gail, although it appears the as of yet short exchange is more about pointing out fallacies of mis-representation/-interpretation than about clarifying any concepts or data. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but I hope Gail and Hall will have a few more exchanges so their positions become more fleshed out and thus can be suitably compared. Also, I hope those exchanges won’t end up lost in the vibrant rainforest that is the OFW comments section!

    Anyway, my own two cents on this issue – the fundamental problem seems to be uncertainty/vagueness about terms, perhaps combined with reluctance or inability to eradicate such uncertainty/vagueness or even discuss their causes at length. For example:

    “We have considered quality exhaustively, and have even presented our results with and without quality corrections[..]”

    What is the definition of “quality”? It may be the case that a certain energy source, say hydro, is of a high quality only under certain conditions, say imports of devices which can use that energy appropriately. Without those conditions, the quality may go down significantly. It seems to me that the EROEI calculation any energy extraction activity which affects the global economy would have to take into account far more than just the wellhead energy cost. The larger, national or perhaps even global circumstances which allow such activity to be profitable, should also be considered. Gail is right – at least – in saying that, in general, this consideration is either ignored or glossed over by people who write papers about or involving EROEI.

    • Charlie Hall and I have had literally hundreds of discussions over the years. I have given talks at most of the BioPhysical Economics conferences. This post was in response to someone who wrote to Charlie Hall, saying, in effect, “You need to respond to that post that Gail has up.”

      This is one of the papers available on quality adjustments. It is one of the papers listed in Charlie Hall’s bibliography.
      It basically suggests using market values to provide differentials among energy types. Regarding what inputs to include in determining the denominator (Energy inputs), it comes close to saying, use what you like, but document it. It mentions a 2.6 relativity of electricity to fossil fuels burned to make that fuel, but gives other methods as well. It never mentions the possibility of intermittent electricity, and how it might be evaluated.

      Apart from this article, the number in use historically, as far as I know, is a 3:1 quality adjustment, available at the discretion of the analyst. If the output is oil, and the input is coal, it might be used to reflect the higher quality of the output than the input. My recollection is that this adjustment is based on work by Cutler Cleveland, perhaps this 1992 paper: “Cleveland, C.J. Energy quality and energy surplus in the extraction of fossil fuels in the U.S. Ecol. Econ. 1992, 6, 139-162,” but I don’t have a copy of the paper, so I may be wrong. But a discretionary 3:1 adjustment for better output than input is seems to be quite common.

      By the way, IEA does not give any special upward adjustment to wind, solar, or hydro electricity. The EIA uses a 2.6 adjustment, based on the view that it takes 2.6 times as much fuel as the heat quantity of electricity coming out.

  24. JT Roberts says:

    Very interesting post. A few years ago when Hillary Clinton was running for office she made the comment that “You didn’t build your business the Government built your business”. That offended a lot of people who think they are self made but she was right in many ways.

    When we live off legacy investment we are beneficiaries of a period of high EROEI. That leveraged labor built the infrastructure that had made our modern economy but it’s not cost free. We can certainly defer maintenance and pretend it is but it will eventually catch up to us. So if we are trying to create an EROEI value that represents sustainable present way of life it must have all levels of depreciation included.

    Has to be cradle to grave.

    When we really do all the numbers 10:1 won’t cut it. It’s too simplistic. Renewables can’t even lift their own weight how can they build or maintain the present system?

    So 1:1 or 5:1 even well head numbers are really meaningless. Every prosperous country today has its roots in the golden age of industry when fuel and resources were cheap.

    • I am afraid I agree with you. The economy cannot really operate on higher-cost energy than oil selling for $20 per barrel or less. Above that level, we have to keep adding huge amounts of debt (promises of future energy).

      I read that Mississippi is closing 83 dangerously deteriorated bridges to traffic. Apparently this kind of thing is a problem all over the country. States don’t have the resources to fix many old bridges that are no doubt still being used by a few people. We can add “closing bridges” as one of the impacts we have of higher cost energy products.

      • JT Roberts says:

        Exactly we see it all around. The dissipative structure is collapsing along the periphery. The first to go are the under utilized structures there simply isn’t enough revenue to support them.

        So take Maine for example incorporated towns are un-incorporating and becoming unorganized townships. This is because they can’t afford their own local government. So they are now expecting county, state, or federal governments to, in a way, bail them out. Surprisingly it’s happening in New Jersey as well as small communities are opting out of local policing and are being serviced by the State Police system.

        These actions put additional unexpected pressure on the core economic systems in the country, and are exponential. The inertia has carried the system thus far as people have piled on debt to create the illusion of growth. There is no substance in a very literal way.

        I might be interesting to do a forensic study of EROEI combined with mining efficiency for the last 150 years. I’m sure we would be surprised at the per capita abundance that has been enjoyed compared with today. It would probably be more meaningful then comparing solar to oil and vise versa.

        • I have been looking at total energy per capita, and saying that needs to rise, at least slightly. Energy per capita is basically the resources of the economy per person. Maybe there is an upward trend in the energy used to extract energy, but there is also a bit of an efficiency gain, acting to somewhat offset this trend.

          When we look at the actual data, we see that by the time energy per capita is flat, (as it sort of is now), people behave differently toward each other. They are in competition for resources, rather than being as interested in sharing them. Governments have a major time trying to find enough resources to fund all of the tasked dumped on it.

          I think that it is total energy, and probably overall average EROEI, that matters. The economy rebalances to the most favorable inputs.

          • Dan says:



            Appreciate Dr. Hall clarifying the EROI but at what point do you stop counting? I remember when gas was $1.50 a gallon and someone explaining to me if you factored in all the costs (subsidies, low interests costs, debt, military, etc..) the true price should have been $10 a gallon.

            • Nope.avi says:

              That someone is most likely a liberal who thinks the only reason why fossil fuels are affordable is because of huge subsidies. This is an erroneous position that assumes that low interest rates are a price subsidy to fossil fuels, and downplays the fact that the “debt” and military expenses related to securing oil supplies is to allow America to keep consuming the quantity of oil that it has become accustomed to. America’s military’s efforts to secure oil supplies has little or no bearing on price.

              That same liberal will fail to mention that fossil fuel producers are a major source of tax revenue

          • theblondbeast says:

            Agreed! Total energy per capita is the simple way to cut through the EROI boundary problem (what part of the economy should be excluded from energy input?). Energy per capita increase is the only way to verify that marginal energy usage is still providing enough excess free energy above the demands of already existing capital and institutions to allow some portion of marginal energy to be used for growth.

            If at any point energy per capita cannot grow it seems to me that either (1) growth is not possible, or (2) apparent growth can only happen at the expense of existing capital/institutions.

  25. Third World person says:

    here another impact of industrial civilization

    Supply chains at risk as pollinators die out
    Even intensive modern agriculture still relies on wild birds, bees and beasts for pollination. But these species — and whole industrial supply chains that depend on them — are at risk, according to a new global survey
    The decline of species that pollinate our world’s flowering plants has been making headlines for some time. Falling numbers of bees — perhaps our best-loved creepy crawlies — are the focus of much public attention, and have driven a current push to ban certain agricultural chemicals, like neonicotinoids.

    But a vast range of insect species, along with birds, bats and even squirrels, are also key pollinators. Agricultural chemicals and climate change suppress biodiversity, making it increasing difficult for them to survive. This is endangering the crops we rely on as well.

    According to a new report, around 75 percent of food crops rely pollinators, making these critters worth $577 billion (€470 billion) annually. Half that value comes from wild pollinators.

  26. Fast Eddy says:

    ‘At the logical extreme we may wish to include all of civilization’s activities as supportive of the energy extractive process so that EROI would be (by definition) 1:1, but that does not seem useful to me.’ 🙂

    Charles – if you shoot across your address I will send you Fast Eddy World Champion T-Shirt….

  27. Tony H says:

    Prof. Charles Hall’s makes the following good point: ‘A large problem is the… increasing use of EROI (and scientific analysis more generally) for advocacy rather than objective analysis and hypothesis testing.’

    I agree wholeheartedly. In a number of EROI analyses I have read for renewable energy sources, the authors have multiplied the electricity output by a factor to represent the quantity of fossil fuel displaced by the renewable electricity. This displaced fossil fuel energy then forms the energy output in their EROI assessment, rather than the actual electricity output. This is a clear example of deliberately misrepresenting data to support a preordained conclusion and attempting to bury this fact in the confusion of a complex mathematical analysis.
    In other studies, authors comparing energy sources appear to cherry past studies to make EROI of competing energy sources (typically nuclear power) appear unrealistically low. Supporters of renewable energy tend to have a passionate ideological belief that the world should switch to these energy sources. They are often willing to distort information to support this preordained conclusion.

    • The IEA is an organization with an “agenda” of promoting wind and solar. It has published this set “Methodology Guidelines for evaluating Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Electricity.” The goal is determining “Energy payback times” and similar statistics. These may have more influence than Charlie Hall’s EROI calculations. An awfully lot of what they put together is based on a model approach–what we hope for, if everything goes according to plan.

      Life Expectancy
      The recommended life expectancy used in life-cycle assessments of photovoltaic components and systems differentiates between the components:
      – Modules: 30 years for mature module technologies (e.g., glass-glass or glass-Tedlar encapsulation), life expectancy may be lower for foil-only encapsulation; this life expectancy is based on typical PV module warranties (i.e., 25 years -80% degradation or less after 25 years) and the expectation that modules last beyond their warrantees.
      – Inverters: 15 years for small plants (residential PV); 30 years with 10% part replacement every 10 yrs (parts need to be specified) for large size plants utility PV, (Mason et al. 2006);
      – Transformers: 30 years
      – Structure: 30 years for roof-top and façades, and between 30- to 60-years for ground mount installations on metal supports. Sensitivity analyses should be carried out by varying the service life of the ground-mount supporting structures within the same time span.
      – Cabling: 30 years
      – Manufacturing plants (capital equipment): The lifetime may be shorter than 30 years, due to the rapid development of technology. Assumptions need to be listed.

      3.1.3 Performance ratio

      The performance ratio (PR) (also called derate factor) describes the difference between the modules’ (DC) rated performance (the product of irradiation and module efficiency) and the actual (AC) electricity generation. It mainly depends upon the kind of installation.

      Using either site-specific PR values or a default value of 0.75 is recommended for roof-top and 0.80 for ground-mounted utility installations (Fthenakis et al. 2008; Mason et al., 2006; Pfatischer 2008); these default values include degradation caused by age. When site- specific PR values, based on early years performance are used, degradation-related losses should be added to longer term projections of the performance.

      3.1.5 Back-up Systems [batteries, etc.]

      Back-up systems are considered to be outside the system boundary of PV LCA.

      3.2.3 System boundaries

      – Include in the product’s system the panels, the mounting system, the cabling, the inverters, and all further components needed to produce electricity and supply the grid.

      – Include the energy- and material-flows caused by manufacturing and storage, climate control, ventilation, lighting for production halls, on-site emissions abatement, and on- site waste treatments.

      – Commuting (transportation to and from work), administration, sales, distribution and research and development (R&D) activities are typically not included in the LCAs of conventional power generation systems. Such activities should therefore also be excluded from the LCA of PV systems, lest misguided comparisons are made.

      -Examine the environmental impacts of producing PV manufacturing equipment, if data are available (e.g. Mohr et al. 2007). If included, list these impacts separately.

      3.3.2 Energy Return on Investment (EROI)

      The traditional way of calculating the EROI of PV is as follows (Lloyd and Forest, 2010):
      EROI = lifetime / EPBT (Energy Payback time)

      The calculation they recommend grosses up the EROI so that it has an adjustment (presumably about 2.6) for the primary energy conversion, but there are no other adjustments for quality. This would seem to mean that they are thinking of the output as being a replacement for regular electricity, not intermittent electricity.

  28. Ed says:

    Thank you Charlie Hall I appropriate your inputs. It is nice to see that Charlie and Gail are not in conflict. They differ on the scope of analysis which is fine.

  29. Response Charlie Hall gave me to post. He also gave me several separate responses to individuals, which I will post separately.

    I thank Gail very much for giving me the opportunity to respond. After undertaking all this, perhaps too defensively, I do agree that we do not understand fully what the energy costs are. So take my estimates as a minimum and examine their trends. That is scary enough. In undertaking my response I became somewhat convinced that I should be including the cost of labor more routinely. I am sympathetic with the perspective of both Gail and some of the discussants that there are other costs that need to be evaluated. All I can say is that if you want to undertake those assessments fully, rigorously and with peer review you have my blessing.

    I think that most of the responses are good and are part of necessary discussion that goes on with any science. Thank you, I shall think more about what you have to say. Several are from perspectives that are outside of my realm of competence to evaluate. I have given Gail a few responses to some of the comments that have been made.

  30. Pingback: Energy Return on Energy Invested – Prof. Charles Hall’s Comments –

  31. Kanghi says:

    Was great that Mr. Hall responded! If only all the scientist would strive for the truth, but sadly interest groups have deep pockets and it might not be like that in the bigger picture!

    Btw, Looks like your Uncle Sam is already even in bigger trouble than anyone really realizes…

    “US federal government spending is expected to bloat to over $4.7 trillion during fiscal 2020, according to Congressional Budget Office data released this week. However, aggressive accounting may be hiding a far worse situation.

    Total spending by the Trump Administration this fiscal year may be more than double what the non-partisan CBO admits. Worse, overall US federal, state and local government spending may exceed 60% of GDP.

    So calculates a Chicago-based accounting watchdog. “Government budgeting works on a cash basis,” explains Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting. “That enables them to leave many of their expenses and liabilities off the books.” Weinberg, a CPA who has testified before Congress and the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, has been calling out shifty government reporting for nearly two decades.

    “Truthful accounting is key for citizens, legislators and the press to understand public finances,” says Weinberg. “Without the right information, it’s hard—if not impossible—to make effective decisions about public policy.””

    • Fast Eddy says:

      More spending is good… more debt is good…. the alternative = death

    • Sungr says:

      “If only all the scientist would strive for the truth, but sadly interest groups have deep pockets and it might not be like that in the bigger picture! ”

      What is this supposed to imply?

      Hopefully you are not concurring with right-wing US agitators that the scientific community are disingenuous political agitators and power players. This is how facist politics operate- slander, conspiracy theories, guilt by association, hatred of science, validating religious mythology etc.

      We need to be discussing issues- scientific studies and data- rather than political trashing and conspiracy theories.

  32. Tony H says:

    If the EROI concept is modified slightly to account for the ‘rate of return’ of energy invested over the first 20 years or so of life, it shows far more correspondence with the real economic performance of a power source. This is how the economics of a wind-CCGT power system are able to compete with new nuclear power plants. The whole-life EROI of a PWR is greatly superior. But because of the long build times (about a decade in most first world countries), the rate of return over the first twenty years (which is pretty much the standard investment window) is mediocre. In spite of the inferior EROI, CCGT stations can be completed and commissioned in just a few years and wind projects in a matter of months. You have to sell the power to cover capital payback and interest payments, so if ‘rate of return EROI’ in the first 20 years is poor, power will be expensive. Even if whole life EROI is poor, rate of return EROI can still be reasonable if build times are short. This is why the key to nuclear competitiveness is to shortening the build time of new power plants.

  33. philsharris says:

    A very civil and interesting discussion – thank you!

    A ‘proof-of-the-pudding’ type thought. The USA is a complex system nested in an even larger complex system and has a large world footprint via industrial activity / trade etc. The recent astonishing increase in US oil production (and to a lesser extent NG) over a decade, if it had been happening in earlier decades might have been expected to accelerate the US total economy into a ‘growth spurt’. We have not seen that happen. That the world economy as a whole has grown significantly in the same period might be because of the also astonishing increase in coal production, mostly in China, and the furious increase in industrial activity in that country. (Coal mostly becomes electricity.) China is apparently still growing fast; the USA not so much. So far, the increase in the mix in the USA and in other OECD, of renewables (admittedly small in total energy) has been a bearable cost, and not too much of a drag – even corn ethanol – but perhaps like tight-oil lacks the …oomph factor!

    The next phase is where ‘the pudding’ starts getting really interesting.


    • Jan says:

      In Europe there is a growing academic discussion about the recessionary effects of the Euro and the austerity regime. The supporters of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) argue that central banks could print money sufficient for prosperity and full employment and that the unscientific ideology called neoliberalism led to a permanent stagnation. Thus it seems that Gail’s theory of a resource based stagnation got competition! A main proponent of the MMT is Bill Mitchell,, In German language: – these are the Keynesian proponents close to the German party “Linke” and to the left wing of the European socialist parties, that also debate MMT.

      • There is confusion about what more debt does. When energy prices are low and still fairly available, more debt indirectly leads to more commodity production/consumption, because of more demand. The greater energy consumption by businesses tends to work to leverage human labor. For example, bigger trucks are purchased, for greater efficiency, This is what increases what is called human productivity, but is more related to the use of energy products. The economy grows, because of the greater productivity.

        When energy prices are already high, more debt may also lead to more wages, but this can lead to higher commodity prices rather than more consumption, because of diminishing returns. This happens if there really isn’t very much more oil/ coal/ gas that can be produced without raising prices. These higher prices, in turn, cut back demand, and ultimately tend to be recessionary. So adding more debt doesn’t really work as well. It temporarily spikes prices and leads to recession.

        So there are different cases. MMT works well with $20 per barrel oil. It can’t be expected to work as well today.

    • China has the same low price problem for fuels problem that the rest of the world has.

      There was an article in the WSJ recently called, Coal Is About to Lose Face in China.

      China’s coal production was dropping until 2017, because many coal mines were losing money at market prices. China closed many mines to try to help fix this problem. According to the article:

      In 2015, rolling coal bond defaults threatened China’s financial sector. Beijing’s response? Massive intervention to curb coal production, which pushed prices and margins higher.

      It was a wonderful idea—if the government only needed to worry about coal firms. Unfortunately, China’s electricity producers, which can’t easily pass on coal price increases because of power price controls, are now running into trouble.

      Huaneng Power International , HNP -0.95% the listed arm of China’s largest power producer, posted its worst quarterly net loss since the 2009 financial crisis in December. Operating earnings in China’s power sector as a whole were barely two times interest payments in 2017—down from nearly three and a half times in early 2016.

      Coal margins, meanwhile, have recovered sharply, with operating earnings now a healthy five times interest payments—up from barely one time two years ago. But since China’s power producers are even more indebted than its coal miners—their total liabilities were $1.3 trillion last year, more than twice that of coal firms—it’s hard to call this an improvement.

      State media in January reported that China’s four biggest power producers had sent an urgent letter to the country’s main economic planning agency, warning that many plants nationwide were running out of cash to buy coal and that banks were curbing lending.

      Margins have bounced back a bit in early 2018 as coal prices have fallen, but all that power debt still needs to be serviced. As a result—should coal prices recover this summer—it’s likely the Chinese government will step in with price controls or other measures to alleviate pressure on the power sector, which now clearly needs more help than coal.

      In my opinion, China has quite a few of the same problems as the rest of the world. The world economy cannot operate on high-priced fuel, no matter of what type.

      There are a lot of nuclear-electric and coal-powered electric plants that are doing badly because of the low price distortions of wind and solar. We all have about the same problem. The peak oil people just yell louder.

      • philsharris says:

        Thanks Gail
        I said it would get really interesting. From what you quote, it already has. These changes in China are happening ‘at the margin’. The delivered rate per day or year of coal/electricity production has presumably only decreased marginally? But it is ‘margins’ I think that drive direction of energy technology transitions, or declines, or growth. ‘See-saw’ was constant feature in historic capital / industry trajectory. Railroads, roads, bulk carriers (unit costs), coal & steam to oil and so on. Oil was too expensive for electricity and neither oil nor nuclear power went very far, but electricity kept growing it seems. However, this time round, and like latest ‘Western’ farming, it is getting harder to see the ‘next step’ let alone the ‘next big thing’. For China, though, the next step I guess is bigger NG pipelines from Russia.

        Question might be: is growth so far of US tight-oil (and of renewables across a range of economies) already pulling the relevant economy down, or is the change to ‘lower return’ energy sources actually helping the energy mix to just about maintain a sufficient forward momentum? In terms of any major transition so far, the one we have actually seen is from coal to natural gas, pretty much across industrial countries, with China now catching up.


  34. dolph says:

    Humans find themselves in the unenviable position of outliving their usefulness. We call this retirement, and we pretend it’s some sort of magical time when you will have lots of money and will play golf, travel, or eat and sit around all day. When in reality most people will have little to no money, which inflates anyway, and all sorts of health problems which bankrupt them.

    My point is this: nobody has a solution to the aging crisis. Everybody hates each other, everybody talks about this or that, but nobody discusses anymore the salient point that humans are basically designed for roughly 60 years.

    But we can’t talk about that because there are some really wealthy and powerful people out there who refuse this, they want to continue on and on, and hold on to their wealth on and on. It’s the denial of death.

    • Eating healthful food (with an emphasis on plant based food) and exercise seems to be part of the solution, but you have a point.

      I have been reading an interesting book called, “Cracking the Aging Code: The New Science of Growing Old – And What it Means for Staying Young” by Josh Mitteldorf and Dorion Sagan. It says that aging is genetic. Our bodies don’t fail because they wear out, but because they are programmed to fail after a certain period of time. We can postpone that time a bit with diet and exercise, but the evolutionary process has genetically selected for a system in which most animal species, including humans, are programmed to leave the system, so there is more room for younger generations.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Just like how printers are manufactured to fail after a certain number of pages…. even though they are in perfectly good order.

  35. Jan says:

    A society is adjusted to its techniques. An agricultural society adapts to sun, soil and water. For the Romans, which included transport over the Mediterranean as a vital part of their political power and existence, ports, rivers and channels became more important. If coal and oil is substituted by electricity there will be likewise changes: wind and sun sites would gain importance. Areas that could easily be supplied by jerry can and tank might be non-profitable for electric wiring. Electric vehicles that are to drive autonomously and thus have a higher rate of car sharing will effect the auto industry as a core industry for GDP as much as the size of the road network. It will effect densities of population if people can go or not to suburbs and villages. It effects agricultural and industrial processes if cheap heat or furtilizer is at hand. The availability and production of goods will change, eventually production will decentralize again with raising transport costs. This might have consequences on the financial industry. Even if we assume that a transition is possible without crisis or crash, adjustments will be enormous. Even if there was a sufficient and suited energy substitution there would be huge adaptations. The EROI does not reflect this. It does not suggest that we will grow our crops in the garden if jobs vanish and transport becomes unpayable. It does not anticipate the balance of power, if some societies have oil and coal and steel to their disposal to build weapons and fuel drones and helicopters, while others have not. All that must obviously be considered. We cannot say, solar panels have an EROI of 5 while oil production has an EROI of 40, great, let’s set up eight times the amount of solar panels! The needed models are more complex than the EROI. We dont have any, we dont even think about it. The invisible hand can just as well lead to crash and war. The EROI is not a bad tool but not at all sufficient to compensate our lack of awareness.

  36. interzonkomizar says:

    @Professor Hall. Thanks for this important clarfication. Do you have any comment on the new Bharain discovery?

    I made this skeptical post last week on another blog …
    For at least 2 yrs now i’ve read articles showing new fields being discovered each yr arent covering the annual production. Then, BINGO, a reeaally big field pops up. When Aramco took over total ownership of their fields in the 70’s the ‘proven reserves’ doubled a few months later, due to ‘new scientific measurement techniques’. Hmmm.
    The new alternatives, which i agree are possible, will have to arrive in ‘plug’n’play’ form before the global economy, which runs on oil at $65 per bbl, not over 70 or under 60, grinds to a halt.

    Sandy, Minister of Future

  37. Something which bears on “wage disparity between elite & non-elite workers”:

    Quote of the Day
    “Technology frequently ends up lowering the skill-set needed to do a job, in turn expanding the pool of potential workers, which then acts as a drag on wage growth.”
    — Barclays researcher Ajay Rajadhyaksha explains why robots can erode wages.

    • I thought this was a good quote:

      When a new technology is released, Rajadhyaksha told me, small things that may not seem important end up being primary to their impact. As an example, he cites the introduction of rear cameras and power steering to semi-trucks. Since the trucks were now easier to navigate and required less strength to steer, driver wages fell. “You see this over and over,” he said.

      Also, being a secretary used to be a job requiring quite a bit of skill. Then computers with spell check took over, and consultants could type their own documents. Quite a few secretarial jobs disappeared, or were replaced by lower-paying positions.

      • doomphd says:

        out here in academia, the secretaries have evolved into fiscal assistants and travel agents. none were discharged though a few did retire. now, the PIs write proposals and papers, submit them and deal with the editors/program managers. PIs also draw most of their artwork and make their own slide and video presentations. unfortunately, most of the graphic artists and photographers were dismissed, as a cost savings.

        guessing i’m a retro, i do miss the days when secretaries typed and submitted proposals and manuscripts, graphic artists made the figures and photographers shot the slides and made the videos. in those days, i suspect i could devote more time to field and lab work, and thinking about the data interpretation. nowadays, i have to squeeze those activities in between the above work that others used to do for me. to keep up, work expands into the evenings and weekends.

    • JesseJames says:

      The promise of technological progress is a dead end. Proponents only pitch its benefits since they stand to obtain great wealth from its implementation. The drawbacks, if even foreseen, are not mentioned. Even worse are the unforeseen consequences. Who would have predicted that the paperless office resulted in more paper being used? Who would have predicted the Pacific Ocean becoming a huge garbage dump? Who would have wanted elderly people who are virtually corpses, but still alive, being kept alive by machines, many times against their will?
      Now we have the “promise” of robotics, AI and gene editing. All will bring disastrous consequences on humanity.

  38. Harry Gibbs says:

    “The US government is frequently caricatured as a tool of rich people. Look closely, though, and the rich sometimes have their money consumed in ways that serve the state. These include maintaining the US position in the global energy balance of power.

    “Consider how the investor class was induced by the favourable tax treatment of master limited partnerships (MLPs) to throw gobs of capital at the shale energy business. Between 2009 and 2014 the market capitalisation of MLPs more than tripled to $500bn as investors hungered for high pre-tax “yields” based on cash flow from hard assets.

    “No one apart from law firm and investment bank associates could read the K-1 prospectuses that document MLPs. Investors could see pictures of pipelines and complicated processing plants bought with their money after fees and underwriting costs were deducted. Those looked real…

    “The decline in MLP prices was a self-reinforcing phenomenon, since the rise in yields meant that the new equity issuance required by the MLP model became too expensive, which led to smaller or more highly leveraged capital spending, and so on.

    “Many investors seem to have thought of MLPs as a way to receive a cash return in excess of bond yields, which would grow as MLP assets increased with investment. This worked to begin with, but the industry became too big for the structure.

    “Since an MLP pays out most of its cash flow after covering debt and maintenance capital expenditure, new money has to be raised for expansion. If MLP economics followed the simple explanation given to retail investors, then the end of capital market access would just mean that MLPs would gradually pay their regular “distributions”, including returns on, and of, capital.

    “Delve deeper into the oil and gas basins, though, and you hear the rest of the story. Oil and gasfields deplete . . . and shale fields do so faster than others. That means the pipelines and processing plants eventually have sandpits at one end and impatient consumers at the other.

    “No matter how many years’ service the pipes and plants could provide, there will not be the production to fill them. At a minimum, operators need to cover operating expenses. The FERC limits your returns but is less concerned with your losses. You should have hired reservoir engineers. Dry wells? Your problem.

    “That fate has just arrived for the pipes and plants connected to some of the first great shale-gas plays in Barnett, Woodford and Haynesville….

    “…the oil and gas infrastructure bubble is over. An American Petroleum Institute study in 2017 estimated “pipeline and gathering capex” would decline from an annual average of $31.3bn in 2013-16 to $20.8bn in 2017-35.

    “The arguably overbuilt MLP industry is fighting over which group gets what contracts in the still-growing Permian basin. Eventually, though, even the Permian will decline. Then, what will pay for “distributions”?”

  39. idaman winahjusidi says:

    As I am just a layman living in a slum and a DO (Drop-Out) from Univ, I can only participate this way. We, in Indonesia, are struggling with very uncapable but greedy & rather repressive govt.
    Year in review—EROI or energy return on (energy) invested
    David J. Murphy and Charles A. S. Hall, 2010
    Excerpted Chapter from The Energy Reader: Overdevelopment and
    the Delusion of Endless Growth, Tom Butler, Daniel Lerch, and George Wuerthner, eds. (Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media, 2012)
    A Dissertation Presented, Nate Hagens, 2010
    Herman Daly, Economics In A Full World, Scientific American, Sept 2005
    Herman E. Daly, The Perils of Free Trade, Scientific American, Nov 1993
    Ecological Economics: The Concept of Scale and Its Relation to Allocation, Distribution, and Uneconomic Growth
    Herman E. Daly, For CANSEE, October 16-19, 2003, Alberta, Canada
    On the Relationship between Scale, Allocation, and Distribution Deepak Malghan, June 2010
    The Essence of Biophysical Economics Kent A. Klitgaard, NYSEA Proceedings 2012
    Biophysical Economics 2009
    Nigel Goddard, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
    Simon Roberts, Arup Foresight Innovation Charles Hall, Kent Klitgaard, 2006

    • Ed says:

      idaman, good to have you with us. What is the situation in Indonesia with respect to energy supplies?

      • idaman winahjusidi says:

        Thanks, Ed.
        Oil already peaked in 1980s, the existing status of the oil reserve only is less than 20 yrs left with current rate of usage (& good EROI), without going to non-conventional oil (we have no drilling infrastructure like in US), and without more detailed exploration (seismic, etc).
        Natural gas is now replacing oil, but a great deal are exported. Also. the gas reserve situation is not good. The potential gas reserves in our South China Sea ZEE meet china’s illegal claim on 80% of SCSeas.
        Renewables meet bureacratic/bad governance & very uncapable (also corrupt) govt.
        We are 250 million population, with large concentration in Java island.

    • It looks like you have been collecting these articles. If you read articles on this site, you will probably discover I am saying something a little different from the above authors. It is not because I haven’t read quite a bit of this “stuff.” It is that quite a bit of this comes from a view of what we would like to have happen, and how perhaps we can have a transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. This, of course, is what publishers want.

      My approach has been to look at the physics of the situation and also what happened in the past. The conclusion I reach is that an awfully lot of what has been written about “wedges” and “orderly transition” is simply nonsense. Even the idea that prices will rise for long periods, because of oil constraints, doesn’t really make sense. Our problem can be expected to be more low prices than high. In fact, we already have a problem with low prices. So I have come up with my own theories, which don’t match up with the standard published narratives.

      • idaman winahjusidi says:

        With those links I just want to say that energy issues is on the same coin (I don’t know the more accurate words) as economic paradigm/practice locally & globally (that’s why I include links on Herman Daly & Biophysical Economics).
        Heavily on the demand side it is on the same coin as human behaviour, that’s why I include link on Nate Hagens.
        What is lacking in my links and I think the most complex is the decision making aspect of bureaucrats/govt, and the concensus (and pressure) among academics/experts before that. Both are in social domain (politics is social science).

        The greatest sociologist-philosopher-activist of 20th century, and the most productive ever (30’s some books), is Pierre Bourdieu (R.I.P.) from France. Maybe his work can shine some lights. He managed to integrate two main school: Weberian & Durkheimian.
        Bourdieu’s magnum opus is a framework of interlinked Habitus-Capital-Field-Practice. Maybe Nate’s term of Habituation inspired by Bourdieu.
        Bourdieu is a leftist, not anti capitalism, but his work is the only one till now that can convincingly debunked Marxist school.
        Maybe his work can be combined with Donella Meadows’ System Thinking.

        If developed countries achieved advance in a more “proper” energy management, the less developed countries will follow, of course tuned to their specific circumstances.
        That’s it, Gail.

        N.B. I collect from net coz I can’t afford to buy books.

        • DJ says:

          I think the definition of developed country is NOT properly managing energy.

        • good to have your input indaman

          seems to me that people expect govt to know what they are doing…..when in fact govt individuals are frozen by the same set of approaching headlights as the rest of us,
          when energy input allows real growth of 3-4% pa, the any government can appear to be competent.
          As things are however, they have no option but to insist that all will be well, hang on to their jobs and hope the problem goes away

          which is why i said exactly that in the intro to my book—it is the crux of all governmental problems,,

          they blame everything except what is really going on

        • It is too bad that Donella Meadows died in 2001 at the age of 60. If she had lived longer, perhaps she could have been involved with recent discussions. H.T Odum was another person interested in systems aspects energy issues. He died in 2002, at the age of 78.

  40. MG says:

    The ageing and deteriorating human populations themselves make the EROI worse than it looks at the first sight, as the populations contain less and less individuals that can provide energy of the muscles and the brain.

    That way, we face abrupt decivilization and depopulation. We have less and less human energy to invest in order to gain some return on it.

    The picture is much more bleak than it looks at first sight, as we put more and more energy just into the conservation of the existing system and saving it from the immediate total collapse.

  41. Fast Eddy says:


  42. Lastcall says:

    Oops…’often be unpalatable…’ sigh, should have posted before I started on the Shiraz!

  43. Lastcall says:

    I think that all but one of the references has CAS Hall in there…?
    Reminds me of the days I use to visit vineyards and was introduced to the concept of ‘Cellar Palate’.

    “Cellar Palate’ is the situation where the winemaker does not look outside his own domain (vineyard-winery) and instead his palate adapts to his own ‘tastes’. Hence his approach to winemaking normalises around his preferences. Outsiders come along and can often be surprised at the enthusiasm that the winemaker has for his product, when in-fact it has wandered off into parts unexplored, and can often be palatable. Message is; get out more and be open to other approaches.

    Still stand by my opinion that if you are quibbling over the quality of the dregs you have probably missed the party.

    • DJ says:

      Some cellar palate in this forum.

    • Response from Charlie Hall:

      Well, as I recall, the original posting I was responding to was about the work of Charles Hall (although Gail gives a broader view in her response). If you want to see me referencing hundreds of other people’s work may I recommend our new book: Hall, C.A.S., and K. Klitgaard. 2017. Energy and the Wealth of Nations: An introduction to BioPhysical Economics. Springer, NY. (second edition)

  44. Kurt says:

    One of my former students went to a top engineering school and then worked for Exxon. After about 5 years he decided to go to graduate school (Stanford). I asked him why and he told me, “it is getting really difficult to get the oil out of the ground.” Come up with all the metrics you want – eroi, eroie, erororieieoroie. Whatever. When the really smart people bail, that’s all you need to know. So, stop arguing about this stuff. Just stop, please. And Charles, crawl back under your rock.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      but really smart people like Charles Hall et al have not bailed…

      kind of a live and let live…

      we all do whatever, and we ignore whatever…

      hey, I see Amber Heard was in the news on Monday!

      don’t you wonder what her EROI is?

      • Kurt says:

        No, Charles is not smart. Just a guy with a shtick. Uses it over and over. Seen it a million times but it means nothing. Amber isn’t really quantifiable.

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          “… but it means nothing.”

          well, as Keynes said, in the long run we’re all dead, so yeah, his shtick means nothing, like everything else…

          but I find his one main idea to be quite interesting…

          dare I say it?

          probably more interesting than Amber Heard…

          • Kurt says:

            Ok, now you’ve gone too far. Amber Heard is far more interesting than Charles. In a million zillion whatever years she will still be more interesting if you really think about it. That’s how humans work.

    • Lastcall says:

      Exactly. Deckchairs on the Titanic; where to sit isn’t important now.

    • Response from Charlie Hall:

      I do not require you to read my stuff…. If you send me your email to I will send you my CV: most of my 14 books and 300 papers are not about EROI…..

  45. Jeff Hubbs says:

    My conception of EROI is that it is a *ratio* whose value is meaningless without a *model* of a closed surface that encloses 1) an energy conversion/extraction *process* in the real world (like a mine, a well, or a dam) and 2) a continuous time interval over which that process operates. The number applies only to the specific model and process under study. The important thing to understand is that the models and ratios for all processes *are always there* but determining what they are can be very, very difficult. If we zoom way, way out, all of human society has an EROI and we leveraged our geological/biological gifts and our cleverness to raise that number up from foraging/hunting all the way up to today’s ~18TW of primary supply. Somewhere along the way, our civilizational EROI rose to the point where we could begin having things like a school, a doctor, a road, an airplane, Apollo XI, Angry Birds. If we do not pay some attention to how much energy we are expending to get our energy, we risk running through all those societal thresholds but in the other direction. So while we may not be able to really know what the civilizational EROI value is, we cannot survive to be a 10,000-year industrial civilization if we do not reduce our dependence on low- and lowering-EROI primary energy sources and raise our dependence on high- and rising-EROI primary energy sources. At the same time, we must be mindful of trading one set of negative externalities for another instead of improving net human welfare throughout that transition.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      “Somewhere along the way, our civilizational EROI rose to the point where we could begin having things like a school, a doctor, a road, an airplane, Apollo XI, Angry Birds.”

      yup… wood, coal, then “cheap oil”, probably 100:1 EROI…

      “So while we may not be able to really know what the civilizational EROI value is, we cannot survive to be a 10,000-year industrial civilization if we do not reduce our dependence on low- and lowering-EROI…”

      yup… IC cannot survive… whatever the necessary EROI (10:1?) to keep BAU, at some point in the (near) future, we will have exhausted the high-enough-EROI stuff and then IC will creak and groan (at 5:1?) and wobble and crash…

      I usually guess that near future will be circa the 2030s…

    • Charlie Hall’s response, given to me:

      Yes, agree, but what is that high and rising EROI fuel? Aye, there’s the rub. I guess that is what David is saying.

  46. I would like to see a study of the EROEI during the 1940s, when Germany and Japan fought World Wars with very little oil. Germany had to use the oil in Romania and Hungary, while Japan had to invade what is now Indonesia to get oil.

    Germany did have enough coal to build a war machine, and Japan built extensive hydroelectric stations in Manchuria and especially North Korea (the center of Japan’s chemical industry). The famous Chosin Reservior , which claimed a lot of US marines in 1950, was built in 1929 by damming the stream at there, and the Supung/Shuifeng dam at Yalu River was built in 1943. Japan also built the Kasen dam in 1944 when it was losing the war badly. (The Kasen dam, called Hwachon by the Koreans, also ended up in North Korea, and a lot of Chinese blood was shed to keep it that way in 1951 but it was claimed by South Koreans who hold it to this day.)

    The Japanese built dams were enough to supply both Koreas’ power needs until NK cut the power lines in 1948 and Sk suffered from heavy power shortage. After the war the SKs built a bunch of dams for their own use.

    • Response from Charlie Hall:

      According to Yergin in “The Prize” WWII was fought on 7 billion barrels of oil used by all armies. That is about how much the US uses now in one year. It worries me how much destruction can be done on so little oil. At that time the US was extracting oil at an EROI 0f roughly 20- 30:1. All sides used a lot of coal. The first act of war between US and Japan was the US blockading the Japanese oil routes from Dutch East Indies/Borneo etc .

    • JesseJames says:

      Germany converted coal into liquid fuel during WWII. They had very smart chemists.
      Also, their smart chemists discovers how to fix nitrogen from gas into nitrites in WWI. This was especially beneficial since they only had 4 months worth of nitrites (for use in explosives) stored at the beginning of WWI.

  47. Theophilus says:

    Excellent discussion. I think the efforts to standardise EROI terms and applications will lead to more accurate calculations. Without a consistent metric, comparisons of various energy sources and there relative value to society is impossible. We have all seen apples to oranges comparisons being made by proponents of various energy projects. For the average person it is very easy to be misled by media reports, where energy claims just don’t add up. Thank you both for working hard to find the best practices to arrive at the truth.

  48. theblondbeast says:

    I think Prof. Hall’s “logical limit” of 1:1 for EROI gets at what John Michael Greer describes in Catabolic Collapse and really reinforces Gail’s point of systemic issues. Greer points out that much of energy consumption goes into the construction and maintenance of capital (infrastructure and also social institutions such as religion, education and government). At first, capital allows for faster growth. More railroads made coal easier, more roads and cars made oil more viable, etc. However as a civilization grows the maintenance cost of capital increases as a share of energy use, leaving less marginal energy available for the construction of new capital. This is relative to the rate of increase of resource extraction and is a function of diminishing resource quality.

    So the denominator contains two functions ((proximate energy required) + (legacy capital energy requirements)). Much of the peak oil thinking focuses on the former. Much of the problem with civilization (and the overly optimistic nature of EROI) lies with the second component of the denominator – the ongoing sunk metabolic energy demands of capital and institutions.

    So a marginal barrel of oil in 1960 may have 100 units of energy. Perhaps only 1 of those units of energy was required for proximate (“at the well head”) extraction. However – lets say 80 of those units of energy went to existing capital and institutions (repaving roads, kindergarten teachers…) leaving 19 units of energy available to the economy for growth. Over time, I assert that the problem isn’t whether the marginal barrel of oil costs even FIVE TIMES as much energy (5 of 100 units) but the fact that legacy sunk capital requires 90 units of energy (as an example) leaving only 5 units of energy available to invest in growing the economy – new capital and institutional expansion.

    The problem is that BOTH of the units of the denominator are growing. One unit is subject to diminishing marginal returns, the other is subject to exponential expansion. This to me is the heart of the matter. Even if infinite quantities of energy were available collapse is still inevitable because at some size of the economy the legacy share of energy demand by capital and institutions represented by the MARGINAL unit of energy will leave no SURPLUS energy available for the creation of new capital and the expansion of existing institutions.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      In 2005, John was also initiated into the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) and received his third grade ordination in 2008.

      John’s wife Sara, who had been a Priestess in the Pagan arm of the Universal Gnostic Church since 1994, also joined her husband in the AODA. Initially she served as the Almoner, but is now the Archdruid of the West (Water). In addition, Sara is also a member of the OBOD, the RDNA and the Druid Gorsedd of the First Circle (DGOFC), an Order co-founded in 1995 by Paul Anthony Dunn (Nathairwen) in South East Tennessee, USA. Under her pen name Clare Vaughn, together with her husband John, she is the co-author of: Learning Ritual Magic: Fundamental Theory and Practice for the Solitary Apprentice (2004) and Pagan Prayer Beads (2007).

      As well as writing books and attending to AODA business, John has had a long time interest in Oriental mystery traditions and Martial arts, and in particular the practice of “Neigong” a set of Chinese breathing, meditation and spiritual disciplines associated with Daoism. In 2001, he started studies and training in the Yang style of T’ai Chi (a system of physical exercise, based on slow controlled movements and thoughts to relieve stress and develop inner spiritual force) with Sifu Andrew Dale of Seattle, and in 2009 received his teacher’s certificate from Sifu Gene Burnett of Ashland, Oregon. John is also a certified Tarot Grandmaster, a practicing Geomancer, and a student of Sacred Geometry. John and Sara relocated to Cumberland, MD, in 2009 and now live in an old mill town in the north central Appalachians.

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        sure, there is a side to JMG that almost all people would agree is irrational…

        but, over the past decade, his thinking/writing about energy resources has been very valuable to me…

        his thinking/writing on these issues is very agreeable with Gail’s…

        but, I do understand that JMG’s personal life issues will make it difficult for many to even attempt to read his writings about energy FF etc…

        how much have you read?

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          I’m very familiar with John.
          His degree is in comparative history.
          While a good entertainer, I’ve never been especially impressed.

          • JMG has a very good grasp of history and a wide range of knowledge. I have learned quite a few things from him, over the years.

            At the same time, I come to different conclusions than he does. I am not convinced that he understands the differences between today’s interlinked world-wide economy, with lots of specialization, and historical economies.

            • theblondbeast says:

              Agreed – it’s a little hard to tell. Part of his point on this subject is that the technological-narcissism that blinds people to the risks we discuss here also tends to make those who think about collapse believe the fundamental energy dynamics of our situation are incomparable to past collapses. His point, not mine. I am not overly comforted by this notion – but I do think it is worth remembering that we are part of the natural world and what we are experiencing is something (in general) experienced by past civilizations and most living organisms.

      • Ed says:

        Oh, Duncan you are so Californian.

      • theblondbeast says:

        The obvious rejoinder to this is that your response is unrelated to either my references to his work or the unique points I made and seems to be mentioned only to imply that the authors secular ideas are somehow suspect based on his spirituality.

    • For me, 1:1 is a terribly low limit (especially defined in a way where energy related to human wages and interest payments are excluded from the denominator). If the economy needed an average EROI of 10:1 to continue, I would think that collapse would start far earlier than 1:1; probably at an average EROI of 9.9:1.

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        I agree about 1:1…

        but it is just a logical definition of the lowest hurdle of sensible energy extraction…

        I think Hall et al are doing great work… even if imperfect…

        their work (limited to comprehensive calculations of energy extraction) is something that could be built on…

        from their calculations “at the wellhead”, I would like to see comprehensive calculations of the “extra” energy that is needed to get the product to the end user… and to make the machines that the end user must have to make the energy useful…

        this would likely put the minimum logical EROI (at the wellhead) at 3:1 or higher…

        then (and this, Gail, is where I often see your thinking), what is the additional energy needed for education infrastructure maintenance etc to allow the whole process of energy extraction to the end user’s machines to all be economically possible?

        I think that’s where your 10:1 thinking is appropriate, in a ballpark way, not calculated but reasonable.

      • Mike Roberts says:

        As I understood it, the 1:1 mentioned by Charles Hall is the logical result of assuming the society we have now is essentially an enabler for obtaining energy. So all energy that is extracted is used, in some way, to enable that extraction. This is the logical result of assuming that all activity in the society we have is ultimately to enable extraction of the energy it takes to undertake those activities.

        Of course, we can’t use more energy than is extracted, so EROEI will never go below 1, using this thinking (looking at the sum total of energy, not at individual energy components). If less energy is extracted then social activity changes to reduce energy use (it can’t do anything else except by temporarily using stored energy), but the ratio remains 1:1.

        I don’t think Charles Hall was talking about collapse at all, in that section.

        • Charlie Hall gave me this response:

          I have rarely if ever written on or predicted collapse but many people seem to come to that conclusion from reading some of the things I say. I do think we are likely to be poorer and as developed by Nafeez Ahmed there are many unpleasant social consequences when people get poorer. I think it critically important to understand the biophysical forces to which we are, and will be, beholden as a partial antidote to the demigogs that are already appearing. However England lived for many centuries on an EROI of roughly 3:1 (i.e. one third of their economic activity was to get food, fodder, wood) and did OK.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Charlie probably has not thought this through… to do so is dangerous for most people:

            1. We cannot go back to living in that manner because we have poisoned the soil with petro chemical fertilizers and pesticides

            2. We have 4000 spent fuel ponds .. that will go onto simmer … then boil … then exterminate anyone still alive

            • theblondbeast says:

              It’s always seemed small succor to me to imagine that if one fuel pond goes bang early, maybe the world would catch on? Imagine if Fukushima Daaichi had burned off? Terrible, yes. But that wold probably have made changes happen.

              I’m an engineer and some of my closest friends work in Nuclear safety. These lessons learned, according to them, get applied pretty stringently.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ve got a cousin who is head of safety at a nuclear plant in southern ontario — I asked him about this — his response was — after Fukushima they installed additional safety measures including diesel powered pumps etc etc blah blah blah ….

              I asked him … what would happen if the energy to power those pumps was no longer available…

              He basically said.. that was not possible….

              But what if?

              That cannot happen….

              Obviously it is not that it is not possible – it is that it is unthinkable. BAU forever.

              Ask your engineer buddy that question …. you can put all the safe guards you want in place to try to prevent a boil off — but those measures all REQUIRE BAU to remain in play…

              When BAU goes down — the ponds uplug….. and the radiation begins to billow across the planet

            • autap7 says:

              Fast Eddy, I agree with you about the spent fuel ponds… yet nobody seem to think about that real danger of nuclear! I have two questions, if you wish to answer or ask your cousin. 1. Where did you get the number of 4000 spent fuel ponds from? There are something like 447 civil nuclear reactor around the world, does it mean that every one of them has more than one spent fuel pond? 2. There are only 7 reactors in the south hemisphere, could it therefore be somewhat safer to live there when electricity goes away? Thank you!
              Indeed engineers built nuclear power plants with the naive belief that there would always be electricity… we humans are so limited and stupid – I include myself out of solidarity 😉

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I forget the source but yes each facility has multiple fuel ponds… Fukushima has 6… (one for each reactor).

              I do not think it matters where one is located — the toxins from these ponds will spread around the world via wind and ocean currents.,.. enter the food chain.. and we’ll ingest this stuff… throw in starvation disease and violence… and you’ve got a wicked death cocktail.

          • James says:

            Here’s an interesting comment on EROEI citing a paper by Hall and Glaub. It seems the hunter-gatherers were superior to the early agriculturalists in EROEI with plenty of leisure time sitting around the campfire eating barbecue.


            • As population density increases, it is necessary to make more and more compromises in order to get more food in total from a given amount of arable land.

              “Organization” is one way of using energy, according to information theory. Farming represented an approach with much more organization than hunting and gathering. The chart in the paper you lin would suggest that as we use more energy for organization, the energy return on investment tends to go down. Or perhaps it is just the problem of diminishing returns to added complexity problem that Joe Tainter talks about.

        • I think we can go lower than 1:1 in terms of rate of return on investment. A lot of our return is future hoped for benefits. For example, people go to college and graduate school, in the hope that the additional education will buy them higher wages, and thus more goods and services in the future.

          This can be a complete waste of money if the person has to drop out, and still repay the loan. This can have a very low return if the person can never find a reasonable-paying job in the field.

          I understand that people from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have the highest school dropout rates. Thus, they are most likely to encounter this problem. But any student who finds a need to work full time in order to afford to go to college or get degrees beyond this is likely to have to have difficulty getting adequate return on investment. The hurdle of the high-cost of advanced education is just too great.

          • Mike Roberts says:

            Yes, but in pure energy terms, society can’t go lower than 1:1. You can’t use more energy than you can obtain. If you consider all societal activity as being an enabler for energy extraction, then you are bound to get an EROEI of 1:1.

            • Mike Roberts says:

              In fact, it can’t go any higher than 1:1 either. It is always going to be 1:1, whatever the level of activity is. It only goes higher when you don’t think of all activity as being some kind of input to energy extraction, which, IMO, would be the correct view.

            • Name says:

              I wrote about EROEI being 1:1 some 2 years ago on other site. I work in an insurance company office building, and it consumes a lot of energy. I think that energy consumed by this building is as important to the whole system, as energy consumed by an oil well.

            • theblondbeast says:

              This is why in my original comments on the thread I pointed out that the important issue is the ratio of what % of each marginal btu goes toward legacy capital/institutions vs what % is available for “growth” – which is largely the creation or expansion of capital/institutions.

      • theblondbeast says:

        I understood his point to be mainly that if you apply the indirect energy of other parts of civilization to its absurd limit (such as entertainment, dental floss, and spork production) then the whole conversation falls apart. The problem as you have often pointed out is that there are no “hard boundaries” in a complex self organized system.

    • I agree with you blondebeast. It seems to me that Tim Garrett’s thermodynamic model of the economy takes into account exactly what you are talking about. I wish Tverberg and Garrett would collaborate as there’s tremendous possible synergy there.

      • theblondbeast says:

        Thank you for sharing this! I couldn’t overstate how important I think the sunk-capital issue is in thinking about EROI. I recall an example from Alice Friedman about how people respond to starvation. Big strong men fared the worst in concentration camps. This is because their extra size and muscle represent metabolic demands. A reduced ration of energy hit them first and hardest compared to small stature or fat persons.

      • JesseJames says:

        Fantastic article!
        Thank you Gail and others like you for illuminating these facts about energy and our economy.

    • DJ says:


      If denominator is: extraction cost + maintainance of capital + new capital + waste.

      This will always be the same as the numerator.

      If extraction cost increase, and maintainance increase in RELATION to capital, and some new investments WILL be done and there WILL be waste.

      I see no other solution than that capital WILL be abandoned.

      Until riot level and collapse.

      • theblondbeast says:

        There are at least two barriers to “abandoning capital” which includes institutions. We could, for instance, abandon air conditioned homes. This only makes sense if we are also willing to abandon the institution of “HVAC repair technicians.” To a large extent I think this has been what we see in globalisation. So the first problem is the obvious moral and social cost of cutting off huge institutional portions of the population to first a lower standard of living and second to possible collapse (Venezuela – M.E.N.A region, etc.).

        The second problem is the feedback effects of reduced population on economic participation. On the one hand, in times past it seems like reduced population allows for more resources for those remaining. In our case where segments of the population are wiped out of consumption (but not life) what you see is increasing wage disparity and social unease. But this has nevertheless allowed more consumption for the wealthy.

        So in some sense this “prediction” is just a description of what is already happening.

    • Response from Charlie Hall:

      Agree in general, including [Gail’s assertion] that 10:1 sounds very roughly correct depending on the degree of affluence you are expecting. Carey King has found that for hundreds of years England operated on an EROI of roughly 3:1. We have written on the economic impacts of decreasing EROI in:

      Hall, C.A.S., R. Powers and W. Schoenberg. 2008. Peak oil, EROI, investments and the economy in an uncertain future. Pp. 113-136 in Pimentel, David. (ed). Renewable Energy Systems: Environmental and Energetic Issues. Elsevier London. And elsewhere.

      My take on how much EROI civilization needs is found in the “Pyramid diagram” of Lambert et al. (in references provided) but it is certainly not understood with precision.

  49. louploup2 says:

    Thanks for the exchange. I wondered about your (Gail Tververg’s) EROI comments when I read them, and am glad Prof Hall responded.

    Deosn’t the final issue Gail raises (difference between FF and electric renewables) have to do with the quality of the energy that HT Odum’s hierarchy of entropy helps explain? I.e., that the higher ‘quality’ liquid fuels contain less entropy; they can do more work even though they contain the same number of potential calories. Am I saying that right?

    Maybe IOW: Can you measure and compare EROIs measuring Emergy instead of Energy?

    • I will have to let Prof. Hall respond, it he chooses. As I understand the situation, EROI was developed before Emergy.

    • Charlie Hall gave me this response:

      I am an enthusiastic PhD student of Howard Odum and am very familiar with, and like the concept of, Emergy. But I do not use it (to his sadness). The reason, when he asked me once, is that I deal with fossil fuels and the like because they are “used up” whereas the rain will rain and the sun will shine next year even if we have used some of them this year. Also I find the calculation of the necessary transformities rather arbitrary, and we have enough trouble with energy. But I am supportive of the work on emergy that continues and think it tells us some additional important things. Once when Mark Brown, Mathis Wackernagel and I did an emergy, footprint analysis and energy analysis of Costa Rica we came up with similar conclusions.

  50. Thank you for your comment, Charlie.

    In the portion of my post that you quote, I was trying to give my impression of how EROI calculations work in practice, not the way that you and those closest to you are doing these calculations. I am also thinking of related calculations, such as Life Cycle Assessment calculations. This is why I used the word “generally.”

    I think we can agree that the calculation of the EROI ratio is a very flexible calculation. You and those closest to yourself are trying to work in the direction of making the flexible analysis as complete and accurate as possible. But I am doubtful that this is true in general. If a person wants to skew the results in the direction of making renewables look as favorable as possible, this is extremely easy to do. For most observers, EROI is simply the result of a calculation in a black box.

    You describe the calculation as

    But I think a more accurate description is

    There are several reasons why the denominator is only partial. The biggest reason is that it is virtually impossible to measure all of the energy inputs. No matter how wide we try to make the boundaries, we are certain to leave portions out. But it is also quite possible to leave out important pieces by design.

    Human labor, historically, has been an extremely significant energy input. The large number of humans that we have today is only possible because of fossil fuel energy, plus some other types of energy, such as burned biomass. Some of these humans are well educated, and, as a result, are able to earn high wages. The education of these people is also only possible because of energy inputs. Leaving out energy inputs relative to wages is not a big distortion when it comes to oil, but it becomes a major distortion when it comes to wind and solar. Thus, leaving out energy costs related to wages tends to make wind and solar appear to be much more of a solution than they really are.

    The same situation exists for other costs associated with wind and solar. If lease payments are made, they can really only be made in goods and services, and those goods and services require energy, usually fossil fuel energy. If interest payments are made, they too are based on payments that can be used to buy goods and services. Thus, they require energy, usually fossil fuel energy. It is not possible to simply “wave one’s hands,” and make the problem go away.

    There is also the problem of making the EROI calculation match up with the right kind of energy output (intermittent or not). I do not think that this is yet handled correctly. In many cases, wind and solar are simply replacing fuel, rather than electricity. It seems like a person could almost compare the EROIs of wind and solar to the EROIs of the fossil fuels they are replacing (typically coal and natural gas). This by itself would suggest a major problem. Alternatively, EROIs could be calculated for buffered combinations of wind or solar with a suitable amount of storage capacity.

    • Sven Røgeberg says:

      «The education of these people is also only possible because of energy inputs. Leaving out energy inputs relative to wages is not a big distortion when it comes to oil, but it becomes a major distortion when it comes to wind and solar.»
      Why is this the case? Is it because in oil it stands relative fewer workers behind the same comperable measure (if that is possible) of energy output than in the RE industry?
      I think I heard that today in the USA the RE industry is employing as many people as in oil (or perhaps it was in coal)?

      • Regarding “The education of these people is only possible because of energy inputs.” This has to do with the whole makeup of the system. Education is one of the services that can be added, when the whole system does not revolve around farming. If an economy is like that of the middle ages, perhaps a few boys from rich families would get an education, but that would be about it. The economy could not spare the young people who would otherwise be working in the fields, and the teachers who would also be needed. Adding the printing of books required a whole higher level of energy consumption as well.

        Our current system of trying to educate everyone, many with very advanced degrees, whether or not there are jobs in those fields, is to me a sign of the need of our economy today to provide jobs (even if these are “being a student, supported by added debt” or college teachers or builder of overly fancy dormitories), whether or not graduates are needed by the economy. These are part of the phony added GDP we are seeing today.

        Regarding “Leaving out energy inputs relative to wages is not a big distortion when it comes to oil, but it becomes a major distortion when it comes to wind and solar.”

        This has to do with the makeup of the system. We are attempting to get oil out of the ground, using lots of steel tubing (generally made with coal, in today’s world) and energy for pumping the oil from the ground and separating it from the water it is produced with. The energy for pumping oil up and for separating it from the water produced with it would perhaps be natural gas, produced with the oil. This is from the oil company’s point of view, a very inexpensive product, but it does tend to lower the EROEI ratio, since it is energy in versus energy out. There are relatively few workers, relative to the amount of oil produced, so wages are not a big percentage of the total.

        Wind and solar deal with more individual units, so tend to have more workers. Installation costs for home solar are particularly high. Labor costs get to be a bigger share of the total.

        I wonder too, if the lack of consistent quality adjustments tend to make the EROIs of wind and solar look better than a comparison based on costs and market prices would indicate. With oil, we are to a significant extent using cheaper fuels to make a higher-priced energy output. With wind and solar, we are using higher-cost fuels to make a close-to-worthless but mandated product (intermittent electricity). If the output were “real” electricity, delivered to the end user, the situation would be different.

        Confusion regarding the value of the output arises from the fact that initially, it looks like intermittent electricity can replace the finished product, non-intermittent electricity. After a person looks at the situation, this is an illusion. Mandates and subsidies are being used to add artificially low-priced (but not low-cost) electricity to the system. This leads to a need for subsidies for nearly all other producers, or they will be driven out of business and not be available for balancing. People assume that wind and solar can easily be scaled up to replace the electricity production that they are driving out of business, but this is an illusion. Governments end up subsidizing something that is, in the end, detrimental to the overall electrical system, in part because of the government subsidies, mandates, and odd pricing system. If the end product (intermittent electricity) is detrimental to the system, it is hard to see of what use the calculation is EROI is. The value of the numerator is, in some sense, negative, because adding the intermittent electricity drives the system toward collapse through artificially low electricity prices.

        This is Euan Mearn’s chart, giving a clue that there is something wrong from a cost point of view. Europe tries to get more of the additional costs back to system than the US. Even Europe’s electricity high prices are being distorted downward by the odd pricing system.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      This subject is absolutely enormous with endless moving parts along with parts being added and replaced … making it impossible to model….

      I doubt that even the CBs and their teams of PHD analysts and super computers come at all close to completely understanding the workings of all of this….

      What boggles my mind is how the entire system is able to hold together when we have this (and have had this for some years now):

      Steven Kopits from Douglas-Westwood said the productivity of new capital spending has fallen by a factor of five since 2000. “The vast majority of public oil and gas companies require oil prices of over $100 to achieve positive free cash flow under current capex and dividend programmes. Nearly half of the industry needs more than $120,” he said

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        So at some point, thanks to that dwindling capex productivity and the dramatic fall-off in investment these past few years, it seems likely that supply will tighten due to insufficient new discoveries and production. Prices will want to go up – but maxed out consumers and importer nations will really struggle with that. Central banks might even exacerbate the problem by putting up interest rates more sharply to ‘cool off’ the inflationary effects from the higher prices or perhaps to buoy their currencies.

        And then, if things do play out in this manner and we’re not derailed in the interim by a trade war or some black swan, we’ll find ourselves up a certain creek and without a certain instrument.

        “…accelerating oil depletion means that existing oil fields are going into decline as they either go dry or it becomes uneconomical to pump any oil from them… There are geopolitical disruptions to consider as well, and nobody seems to want to acknowledge that crude inventories are falling…

        “Discoveries of new resources fell to a record low of only 4 billion barrels last year, while the world consumed 36 billion barrels in 2017… which means we’re not replacing what we’re consuming…

        “Investment spending is likely to only go up by 6 percent in 2018 across the board, which means oil producers aren’t investing enough to replace diminishing production capacity…
        Mark my words: in the next couple of years, depletion is once again going to rear its ugly head. … Sooner or later, the supply-demand curve is going to cross.”

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