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The sower's way: a strategy to attain the energy transition

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2/10/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Heat and Technology
Issue numberSpecial Issue 2
Volume34
Number of pages3
Pages (from-to)S263-S265
Publication statusPublished
Early online date2/10/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In order to face resource depletion and climate change, society needs to move as quickly as possible to a renewable energy supply. Here, we argue that the transition can be seen as a process similar to the challenge faced by ancient farmers who had to save some of their harvest as seed for the next harvest. In the present case, during the initial phase of the transition, we need to save and invest part of the energy produced by fossil fuels in order to build their own replacement in the form of renewable energy plants. This strategy is called here "the Sower's Way". The needs for the transition can be quantified in terms of the "energy return for energy invested" (EROI or EROEI) in order to estimate the amount of "seed" that's necessary to invest before either fossil fuels become too expensive to be profitably extracted or the temperature rise caused by greenhouse gases exceed the safe limits, as they are understood today. Taking into account that it is necessary to maintain a minimum level of energy supply for a growing human population and for improving the living standards of people living in poor countries, the calculations indicate that a considerable increase in the investments in renewable energy is necessary, and that it is necessary to start as soon as possible.