Ironically – and without factoring emissions – some renewable energies make electric cars less efficient in cost than gasoline-powered versions
You know you’re doing something right when William Henry Gates III — you might know him better as Bill — is a fan boy. Yes, as brilliant and lauded as Mr. Microsoft is, he literally fawns over a (semi) obscure Canadian scientist named Vaclav Smil.
Citing Smil’s unique ability to go both deep and broad — as in being able to plum a subject to its depths but also bring insights from across many disciplines — Gates claims to have read almost all of Smil’s books. Considering that the University of Manitoba professor emeritus has published 37 — four in 2013 alone, says Bill — that’s quite a feat.
Nonetheless, the world’s sometimes richest man claims he waits “for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie.”
Smil’s books are not easy reads — says the man who gave us Control-Alt-Delete! — the latest, Energy and Civilization: A History, no exception. But one of the core principles is something called energy returned on energy invested, or ERoEI.
Essentially, ERoEI is a measure of how efficiently you are gathering or creating new energy. Obviously, getting a lot of energy out of a process while minimizing the amount of energy used is the desired end goal. By way of example, Smil cites the human transition from hunters to farmer/gatherer as example of the benefits of energy production efficiency.
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