Energy Return on Investment (EROI) & Energy Analysis

After unrestricted population growth, EROI (or EROEI, energy return on energy invested) is perhaps the most critical issue facing humans that we won't talk about or don't know about. While EROI calculations may be a bit imprecise, the big picture is what matters....and it isn't a pretty one.

Net Energy Analysis and EROI (Dr. Cutler Cleveland, Encyclopedia of Earth).

Peak Oil, EROI, Investments, and the Economy in an Uncertain Future: Dr. Charles Hall et al., (2008); PDF quality isn't great, but the article is worth reading and re-reading.

What is the Minimum EROI That a Sustainable Society Must Have? Another though-provoking analysis by Dr. Charles Hall and colleagues.

Posts by Nate Hagens on The Oil Drum
Time-sensitive EROI (discounting) (Dec 2010): Recommended post and discussion.
Ruminations on EROI, demand, and human behavior (Jan 2009)
A net energy parable (sasquatches!) (Aug 2006): Humorous, instructive introduction to EROI.

Searching for a Miracle: Richard Heinberg's succinct but thorough analysis of energy resources, including pros and cons and, specifically, EROI of each (2009).

A series on about EROI of renewables by Jeff Vail (The Oil Drum). Recommended series.
Renewable Transition 1: Targets & Troubles (July 2009): Problems and uncertainties of renewable energy resources (in a qualitiative EROI sense).
EROEI Uncertainty (Aug 2009): Vail argues that systemic ("long-tail") estimates of EROI (these include more stages in the energy chain) are as much as an order of magnitude less than conventional estimates. He then discusses a price-based proxy for EROI estimates.

EROI of global oil and gas production (PDF, Gagnon et al. 2009) plus a post and discussion about this article on The Oil Drum (July 2009).

Natural Gas EROI in North America: TOD post and discussion is well-written, with useful discussion, and a bleak message.

EROI of Corn Ethanol, part I and part II: David Murphy et al.'s analysis of published studies of corn ethanol EROI. Their conclusion: roughly 1:1, excluding other costs.

Howard Odum, Environment, Power, and Society for the 21st Century (2007): Significantly revised and expanded version of the pioneering text of ecological economics, energy flows, emergy, exergy, and natural systems. Not a page-turner of a text, but worth poring over.

The Jevons Paradox: Why energy efficiency is not the answer. You should be able to explain the Jevons Paradox to a stranger on a bus....or to your kid.

"Cheese slicer" graph of U.S. energy sources and uses in 2008 (Lawrence Livermore Nat Lab).