A Framework for Energy Alternatives: Net Energy, Liebig’s Law and Multi-criteria Analysis

  • Nathan John Hagens
  • Kenneth Mulder

Abstract

Standard economic analysis does not accurately account for the physical depletion of a resource due to its reliance on fiat currency as a metric. Net energy analysis, particularly Energy Return on Energy Investment, can measure the biophysical properties of a resources progression over time. There has been sporadic and disparate use of net energy statistics over the past several decades. Some analyses are inclusive in treatment of inputs and outputs while others are very narrow, leading to difficulty of accurate comparisons in policy discussions. This chapter attempts to place these analyses in a common framework that includes both energy and non-energy inputs, environmental externalities, and non-energy co-products. We also assess how Liebig’s Law of the minimum may require energy analysts to utilize multi-criteria analysis techniques when energy may not be the sole limiting variable.

Keywords

Net energy EROI EROEI liebig’s law ethanol biophysical economics oil natural gas 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan John Hagens
    • 1
  • Kenneth Mulder
    • 2
  1. 1.Gund Institute for Ecological EconomicsUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Green Mountain CollegeUSA

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