Fossil fuels offer ‘increasingly poor’ returns on investment, study finds

Energy news
Researchers claim the findings make a strong case to invest in sources of renewable energy.

Investing in fossil fuels is providing “increasingly poor” returns on investment according to a new study.

Leeds University said energy return on investment (EROI) for oil, gas and coal has previously been estimated at 25:1– or one barrel of oil used yielding 25 back into the economy.

However a new study from the uni’s Sustainability Research Institute suggests returns are much closer to renewable energy sources at around 6:1.

Researchers say this is because they are now assessing them at the finished fuel stage, rather than the extraction stage, taking into account the energy needed to transform them into fuels such as petrol for cars and electricity for housholds.

The co-authors claim the results makes a strong case for rapidly investing in renewable sources.

Meanwhile increased extraction costs for fossil fuels will cause their ratios to decline.

Co-author Paul Brockeay, an expert in energy-economy modelling, said: “The ratios will only continue to decline because we are swiftly reaching the point where all the easily-accessible fossil fuel sources are becoming exhausted.

“By stepping up investment in renewable energy sources we can help ensure that we don’t tip over the edge.

Fellow researcher Linda Brand-Correa added: “The average energy return on investment for all fossil fuels at the finished fuel stage declined by roughly 23 per cent in the 16 year period we considered.”

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