- Jul 17, 2019 12:00 pm GMT
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Fossil fuels, long regarded for their high-energy return on investment, are not as efficient as once thought. In fact, their final yields are not much better than those of renewable options, according to a new study.
Oil, coal and natural gas have generally returned energy at a ratio of 25:1, meaning that for every barrel of oil used in production, 25 barrels have been made. But that measurement, called energy return on investment (EROI), has traditionally been taken when fossil fuels are removed from the ground, and fails to account for energy used during the refining process.
When the refining process is accounted for, EROI drops to about 6:1, according to a new University of Leeds study. That's comparable to the EROI for solar. "The transition from fossil fuels to renewables actually might not be as bad as people thought," said Paul Brockway, a co-author of the study.
The energy density of fossils and efficiency of energy trasnfer has long been one of the main reasons for oil and gas success, but has that been long overstated?