Relating Financial and Energy Return on Investment
For many reasons, including environmental impacts and the peaking and depletion of the highest grades of fossil energy, it is very important to have sound methods for the evaluation of energy technologies and the profitability of the businesses that utilize them. In this paper we derive relations among the biophysical characteristic of an energy resource in relation to the businesses and technologies that exploit them. These relations include the energy return on energy investment (EROI), the price of energy, and the profit of an energy business. Our analyses show that EROI and the price of energy are inherently inversely related such that as EROI decreases for depleting fossil fuel production, the corresponding energy prices increase dramatically. Using energy and financial data for the oil and gas production sector, we demonstrate that the equations sufficiently describe the fundamental trends between profit, price, and EROI. For example, in 2002 an EROI of 11:1 for US oil and gas translates to an oil price of 24 $2005/barrel at a typical profit of 10%. This work sets the stage for proper EROI and price comparisons of individual fossil and renewable energy businesses as well as the electricity sector as a whole. Additionally, it presents a framework for incorporating EROI into larger economic systems models.
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- Cleveland, Cutler J., 2005. "Net energy from the extraction of oil and gas in the United States," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 769-782.
- Bullard, Clark W. & Penner, Peter S. & Pilati, David A., 1978. "Net energy analysis : Handbook for combining process and input-output analysis," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-313, November.
- Gately, Mark, 2007. "The EROI of U.S. offshore energy extraction: A net energy analysis of the Gulf of Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 355-364, August.
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