I recently did a presentation on the EROI of the Australian electricity supply industry. The key aims were –
- Calculate how much energy it takes to build, run and maintain the Australian electricity supply industry
- Disaggregate the feedstock fuels (coal, gas, etc) from the operational energy of the system
- Disaggregate generation, transmission, distribution & on-selling
- Establish a net-energy baseline for Australia for future work
The analysis required calculating the direct and indirect energy of the system using various energy accounts (ABS, BREE, Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program, NGER greenhouse reporting data, AEMO). The presentation is here for 2013-14.
The main conclusions are –
- The EROI is around 40:1 using primary energy equivalent scaling, therefore the system is not EROI constrained.
- This is mostly due to the availability and proximity of coal in relation to the major demand centres
- The high EROI would permit an ambitious abatement strategy based on lower EROI generation, however there is a limit to how far this could proceed
- Unlike oil supply, electricity systems are mostly cost constrained rather then EROI constrained, although a large scale shift to renewables would most likely change this. Most of the recent cost increase are low-energy intensity costs associated with transmission and distribution