Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Energy intensities, EROIs (energy returned on invested), and energy payback times of electricity generating power plants

Available online 13 March 2013
Publication year: 2013

The energy returned on invested, EROI, has been evaluated for typical power plants representing wind energy, photovoltaics, solar thermal, hydro, natural gas, biogas, coal and nuclear power. The strict exergy concept with no “primary energy weighting”, updated material databases, and updated technical procedures make it possible to directly compare the overall efficiency of those power plants on a uniform mathematical and physical basis. Pump storage systems, needed for solar and wind energy, have been included in the EROI so that the efficiency can be compared with an “unbuffered” scenario. The results show that nuclear, hydro, coal, and natural gas power systems (in this order) are one order of magnitude more effective than photovoltaics and wind power.


► Nuclear, “renewable” and fossil energy are comparable on a uniform physical basis. ► Energy storage is considered for the calculation, reducing the ERoEI remarkably. ► All power systems generate more energy than they consume. ► Photovoltaics, biomass and wind (buffered) are below the economical threshold.

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