Peak oil has probably been reached around the year 2007, at least in as far as conventional oil reserves are concerned. This means that any future oil reserves are likely to be much smaller in scale, having a lower energy density and have consequentially a lower Energy-Return-on-Energy-Investment Ratio.
A major question is how to fulfill the need of humanity for cheap and energy-dense resources. As the end of the age of fossil fuel approaches rapidly, humanity has to find alternatives to the current paradigm. The most likely alternative for providing energy for society is solar due to the EROI. This depends on many factors, including location of solar plants and conversion ratios. Often, researchers do not deduct maintainance and other operational expenses from EROI calculations. For example, some researchers do not deduct energy spend on transport to the facility, and cleaning of solar panels. This makes photovoltaics look better in terms of energy investment then it really is.
It is important to keep in mind that solar panels have a limited lifespan, and that the energy yield cannot be maintained over time. Energy density is another important point to consider.
I still believe that photovoltaic installations are good investments if they are accompanied by subsidies and levies on fossil fuels. If your intention is to transition to renewable energies, this cannot be done without subsidies because fossil fuels will always have a higher EROI.
That obviously depends on your point of view, subsidizing solar energy means that solar energy will not become competitive with other energy sources.
In my assessment, the EROI of photovoltaic energy systems will not make up for the shortfall or lack of fossil fuels in the coming years. Peak oil will hit hard, it will impact all of us. We will not be able to source easily accessible energy as we have in the past. But photovoltaics definately help to smoothen the energy transition.
Many thanks for the shared interest in the energy world!
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