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The Simple Physics of Energy Use$
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Peter Rez

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198802297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198802297.001.0001

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Embodied Energy and Energy Return on Investment

Embodied Energy and Energy Return on Investment

(p.216) 14 Embodied Energy and Energy Return on Investment
The Simple Physics of Energy Use

Peter Rez

Oxford University Press

It is nearly always the case that the energy used to make the materials dominates, whereas the energy used in shipping either the raw materials or the finished product is usually small in comparison. For most things that we use, the embodied energy is much less than the energy consumed in operational use. When considering energy generation, there are two energy costs that should be considered. There is the energy needed to build the system, which can be thought of as a ‘capital’ or investment energy, and the energy needed to provide the fuel. For fossil fuels, the energy needed to provide the fuel dominates; for renewables, the fuel is free, so there is only an investment energy. The investment energy for nuclear power is greater than the energy needed to make the fuel, but only by a factor of about 4.

Keywords:   EROI, capital, investment, operational, buildings, cars, airplanes, ships, power plant, coal, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, hydroelectricity, renewable, fossil fuel

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