Implications of Energy Return on Energy Invested on Future Total Energy Demand
Human society is now at the beginning of a transition from fossil-fuel based primary energy sources to a mixture of renewable and nuclear based energy sources which have a lower Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) than the older fossil based sources. This paper examines the evolution of total energy demand during this transition for a highly idealized energy economy. A simple model is introduced in which the net useful energy output required to operate an economy is assumed to remain fixed while the lower EROEI source gradually replaces the older higher EROEI primary energy source following a logistics substitution model. The results show that, for fixed net useful energy output, total energy demand increases as the ratio EROEI new /EROEI old decreases; total energy demand diverges as EROEI new approaches unity, indicating that the system must collapse in this limit.
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