Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for photovoltaic solar systems in regions of moderate insolation: A comprehensive response

Marco Raugei, Sgouris Sgouridis, David Murphy, Vasilis Fthenakis, Rolf Frischknecht, Christian Breyer, Ugo Bardi, Charles Barnhart, Alastair Buckley, Michael Carbajales-Dale, Denes Csala, Mariska de Wild-Scholten, Garvin Heath, Arnulf Jæger-Waldau, Christopher Jones, Arthur Keller, Enrica Leccisi, Pierluigi Mancarella, Nicola Pearsall, Adam SiegelWim Sinke, Philippe Stolz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    A recent paper by Ferroni and Hopkirk (2016) asserts that the ERoEI (also referred to as EROI) of photovoltaic (PV) systems is so low that they actually act as net energy sinks, rather than delivering energy to society. Such claim, if accurate, would call into question many energy investment decisions. In the same paper, a comparison is also drawn between PV and nuclear electricity. We have carefully analysed this paper, and found methodological inconsistencies and calculation errors that, in combination, render its conclusions not scientifically sound. Ferroni and Hopkirk adopt ‘extended’ boundaries for their analysis of PV without acknowledging that such choice of boundaries makes their results incompatible with those for all other technologies that have been analysed using more conventional boundaries, including nuclear energy with which the authors engage in multiple inconsistent comparisons. In addition, they use out-dated information, make invalid assumptions on PV specifications and other key parameters, and conduct calculation errors, including double counting. We herein provide revised EROI calculations for PV electricity in Switzerland, adopting both conventional and ‘extended’ system boundaries, to contrast with their results, which points to an order-of-magnitude underestimate of the EROI of PV in Switzerland by Ferroni and Hopkirk.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)377-384
    Number of pages8
    JournalEnergy Policy
    Volume102
    Early online date1 Jan 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • Adjustment factor
    • ERoEI
    • EROI
    • Germany
    • Incentive system
    • Insolation levels
    • Photovoltaic energy
    • Switzerland

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