Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Ideal EROI (energy return on investment) deepens the understanding of energy systems

Publication date: Available online 26 February 2014
Author(s): Reynir Atlason , Runar Unnthorsson
This article presents a new EROI (energy return on investment) factor named the ideal EROI, or EROI ide , that provides the theoretical upper boundary of the EROI of a given system. The EROI ide is the ratio between the inputs within the EROI stnd boundaries and the theoretical maximum output from a given system; i.e, all losses are omitted and the maximum theoretical energy output of the system is used. EROI ide resembles the concept of the idealised Carnot heat engine. Although the EROI of a given system can never be equal to EROI ide , the EROI ide can be used to estimate the potential for improvement; e.g., if the difference between the EROI ide and EROI stnd is small then little improvement can be expected from further research funding. Calculations using EROI ide can add a valuable depth to the overall results of an EROI study, benefitting policy makers involved in energy policy planning. Three application examples of EROI ide are provided, one for a hydroelectric power plant, one for a geothermal power plant and one example for a hypothetical wind farm. The calculations show that the hydro power plant could improve approximately 3 fold, whereas the geothermal plant had a potential of 27 fold improvement over its lifetime.

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