Cleveland,C.J., Costanza,R., Hall,C.A.S. and Kaufmann,R.(1984): Energy and the U.S. economy: A biophysical perspective. Science, 225, 890-897.


 A series of hypotheses is presented about the relation of national energy use to national economic activity (both time series and cross-sectional) which offer a different perspective from standard economics for the assessment of historical and current economic events. The analysis incorporates nearly 100 years of time series data and 3 years of cross-sectional data on 87 sectors of the United States economy. Gross national product, labor productivity, and price levels are all correlated closely with various aspects of energy use, and these correlations are improved when corrections are made for energy quality. A large portion of the apparent increases in U.S. energy efficiency has been due to our ability to expand the relative use of high-quality fuels such as petroleum and electricity, and also to relative shifts in fuel use between sectors of the economy. The concept of energy return on investment is introduced as a major driving force in our economy, and data are provided which show a marked decline in energy return on investment for all our principal fuels in recent decades. Future economic growth will depend largely on the net energy yield of alternative fuel sources, and some standard economic models may need to be modified to account for the biophysical constraints on human economic activity.』

Statement of hypotheses
Energy and economic production
 Energy costs of capital and labor
 Fuel use and economic output
 Fuel efficiency
Labor productivity and technical change
Energy and inflation
Natural resource quality from an energy perspective
 Alternative fuel sources
References and notes

Table 1. Eastimates of energy return on investment (EROI) ratios for some existing and proposed fuel supply technologies (54). Numbers in parentheses for electricity generation include a quality factor based on a heat rate of 2646 kcal/kWh.



Oil and gas (domestic wellhead)  


Production 23.0,
discoveries 8.0
Coal (mine mouth)  
  1950's 80.3
  1970's 30.0
Oil shale 0.7 to 13.3
Coal liquefaction 0.5 to 8.2
Geopressured gas 10. to 5.0

Ethanol (sugarcane) 0.8 to 1.7
Ethanol (corn) 1.3
Ethanol (corn residues) 0.7 to 1.8
Methanol (wood) 2.6
Solar space heat (fossil backup)  
  Flat-plate collector 1.9
  Concentrating collector 1.6

Electricity production
  U.S. average 9.0 (27.0)
  Western surface coal   
   No scrubbers 6.0 (18.0)
   Scrubbers 2.5 (7.5)
Hydropower 11.2 (33.6)
Nuclear (light-water reactor) 4.0 (12.0)
  Power satellite 2.0 (6.0)
  Power tower 4.2 (12.6)
  Photovoltaics 1.7 (5.1) to 10.0 (30.0)
  Liquid 4.0 (12.0)
  Hot dry rock 1.9 (5.7) to 13.0 (39.0)
*Based on discovery rates reported by Hubbert (44) and the assumption that energy use in drilling was ;ess than 1 barrel per foot [Hall and Cleveland (44)].
Does not include energy in fuel.