Oil producers are working harder than ever to replace their reserves and, increasingly, turning to nonconventional petroleum sources such as Canada’s tarry bitumen and ultra-deepwater offshore wells. As they do so, they are investing more energy to deliver each new barrel of oil. Similar trends are playing out for natural gas and coal, and a growing number of energy analysts are worried. They see these accelerating trends—what they call fossil fuels’ declining energy return on investment, or EROI—as an ill portent for the global economy.
The critical question for the future is whether renewable energy sources can fill the gap, sustaining the energy surplus that has supported explosive growth in human life span and population since the industrial revolution. A book due out later this year promises a hard-nosed look at solar energy—the fastest growing form of renewable energy—and is likely to raise plenty of eyebrows. [Read More]
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