Dr. Cleveland [home page] is the Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University and vice-president in the International Society of Ecological Economics. Dr. Cleveland's research focuses on the ecological-economic analysis of how energy and materials are used to meet human needs. His research employs the use of econometric and systems dynamics models of oil supply, natural resource scarcity, and the relation between the use of energy and natural resources and economic systems.
Since the early 1980's, Dr. Cleveland and his associates have done extensive research on the declining 'yield per effort' of oil exploration: more effort in drilling was yielding diminishing results, year by year.
Ultimately at the energy break-even point, we can expect to retrieve no more than a single barrel of oil for every barrel of oil expended to find, drill, pump and refine that barrel of oil. At that point, we will have to turn to something else to meet our needs. According to his calculations, in the continental USA this could effectively happen during the first decade of the 21st century.
Please note: A number of links on this page are out of date. They will be resolved in due course. Editor. 2005 November 8.
Scientists for a Sustainable Energy Future An Open Letter to the American People [May 2001]
Is White House Energy Policy a Dry Hole? Interview, EVWorld.com [March 2001]
Why the Bush Oil (Energy) Policy Will Fail [March 2001]
Dr Cleveland has prepared an analysis of the net energy return from oil and gas extraction in the U.S., 1954-1997 under review at Energy: The International Journal. A working paper version of this analysis is available at his organization's web site: BadLink http://www.bu.edu/cees/wpaper.html. [Jan 2001]
Energy Quality, Net Energy, and the Coming Energy Transition, Sixth Annual Energy Conference “The Future of Oil as an Energy Source,” sponsored by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates." [2000 October 7-8]
"Global oil production will peak in the coming decades, followed by natural gas and coal. These turning points constitute an unprecedented watershed in human history. This paper focuses on some of the critical challenges we face in the transition from conventional fossil fuels to alternative sources, particularly solar energy. Conventional wisdom holds that technical improvements in the efficiency of energy end use and the shift towards a dot-com economy will de-couple energy use and economic well-being. But the relationship is much more complex than this simple formulation. Most analyses underestimate the important quality differences between fossil fuels and solar energy and their economic implications. Quality in this case is measured by the amount of economic output generated per unit of energy input. The lower quality nature of solar energy is reflected in part by its energy density, and its lower energy return on investment, the amount of energy delivered by a system compared to the energy used in the delivery process. When quality differences are accounted for, the relationship between energy use and economic activity is very strong."
Other items of interest:
A web site will be launched soon that contains all of the work that BadLink Robert Kaufmann and Cutler Cleveland have done on the assessment of oil and gas resources.
Dr. Cleveland is currently leading a large group effort to summarize current understanding of the net energy return of all conventional and alternative energy technologies.
Cutler J. Cleveland
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