Resource depletion and energy system transitions
Figure 1. Result from the ROMEO optimization model showing the transition to oil substitutes. Source: Brandt et al. 2010.
The depletion of energy resources is a complex phenomenon. Depletion is not a process of simply "running out" of a resource, but instead is a complex process of technological change and adaptation. This adaptation can leads to development of new resources, which are often lower quality, more costly to process, or more difficult to access (e.g. deepwater oil resources, shale oil, or bitumen). We attempt to understand depletion within this broad context of technical change and adaption, and to understand the impacts of these shifts on the environment.
Oil depletion and oil transitions
A research interest of the EAO group involves exploring the mathematical tools used to model oil depletion at large scales. This interest has also lead to work on optimization modeling of the transition to substitutes for conventional oil in the face of resource depletion. These tools will help us understand which oil substitutes might be used in the future, how quickly and extensively we might need to develop them, and what their impacts could be (both environmental and economic).
Resource depletion and the energy efficiency of resource extraction
Recent work has focused on the role of energy efficiency in resource depletion and resource transitions. Many problems associated with resource depletion can be understood as arising from the increasing energy intensity of extraction as a resource becomes increasingly depleted. Metrics such as energy return on investment (EROI) aim to shed light on this effect. We have examined this energy efficiency effect in resources such as conventional oil, heavy oil, and the oil sands. We have also explored the energetics of unconventional oil alternatives, such as oil shale.
Brandt, A.R., A. Millard-Ball, M. Ganser, S. Gorelick (2013). Peak oil demand: The role of fuel efficiency and alternative fuels in a global oil production decline. Environmental Science & Technology. DOI: 10.1021/es401419t
Englander, J., A.R. Brandt, S. Bharadwaj (2013). Historical trends in greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands extraction. Environmental Research Letters. 8 044036
Brandt, A.R., M. Dale (2011). A general mathematical framework for systems-scale efficiency of energy extraction and conversion: Energy return on investment (EROI) and other energy return ratios. Energies 2011(4): 1211-1245. DOI:10.3390/en4081211
Brandt, A.R. (2011). Oil depletion and the energy efficiency of oil production: The case of California. Sustainabilities. 3(10): 1833-1844. DOI:10.3390/su3101833
Brandt, A.R. (2011) ROMEO model documentation: The Regional Optimization Model for Environmental impacts from Oil Substitutes Model (version 2.0) [PDF]
Mulchandani, H., A.R. Brandt (2011). Oil shale as an energy resource in a CO2 constrained world: The concept of electricity production with in-situ carbon capture (EPICC). Energy & Fuels. 25(4): 1633-1641. DOI:10.1021/ef101714x
Brandt, A.R., S. Unnasch (2010). Energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions from thermal enhanced oil recovery. Energy & Fuels. 24(8): 4581-4589. DOI:10.1021/ef100410f
Brandt A.R., R.J. Plevin and A.E. Farrell (2010). Dynamics of the oil transition: Modeling capacity, depletion, and emissions. Energy. 35(7): 2852-2860. DOI:10.1016/j.energy.2010.03.014
Yeh, S., S.M. Jordaan, A.R. Brandt, M. Turetsky, S. Spatari, D. Keith (2010). Land use greenhouse gas emissions from conventional and unconventional oil production. Environmental Science & Technology. 44(22): 8766-8772. DOI:10.1021/es1013278
Brandt, A.R. (2009) Greenhouse gas emissions from oil substitutes: Dynamics, resources, and systems behavior. Stanford Energy Seminar. [PDF]
Sorrell, S., J. Speirs, R. Bentley, A.R. Brandt, R. Miller (2009). Global oil depletion: A review of the evidence. Energy Policy, 38(9): 5290-5295. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2010.04.046
Brandt, A.R. (2007). Testing Hubbert. Energy Policy, 35(5): 3074-3088. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2006.11.004
Brandt, A.R. and A.E. Farrell (2007). Scraping the bottom of the barrel: CO2 emission consequences of a transition to low-quality and synthetic petroleum resources. Climatic Change,84(3-4): 241-263. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-007-9275-y
Farrell, A.E. and A.R. Brandt (2006). Risks of the oil transition. Environmental Research Letters,1(1). DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/1/1/014004