Relation to Ecological Footprint?

I had a few questions regarding the positioning of MAXergy approach with for instance the ecological footprint method.

First of all, Maxergy is not a advanced development of the ecological footprint. It originates from thermodynamic exergy analyses.* However, its made practical by transferring all impacts to m2 land surface needed to produce energy and resources, on the basis of the fact that renewable energy is related to solar energy and (actual) land needed to capture and convert this outside system resource. (by solar panels, wind-turbines or else) . As such, MAXergy , by U-turn, touches upon the ecological footprint again. In terms of using land as indicator. But there are essential differences.

The ecological Footprint method in general accounts for land use for renewable sources, and land to absorb CO2 emissions as compensation for the use of non renewable resources. As such it deals only with energy effects of non renewables, not with direct material effects ( like depletion, or entropy increase) In fact, it even does not address energy, but at one of the potential side effects of the use of energy: Carbon emissions.

Regarding land use for renewables, Maxergy could profit and use parts of the data collected in the Ecological footprint method**. However the main distinction in the approach is with so called non renewable material and energy. Footprint only addresses their Embodied energy ( and their CO2 compensation.) MAXergy counts for restoring the entropy loss, by a measure called Circular energy, using the “reference environment” from Exergy approaches.

And this is essential: Why would we include process energy plus land to regenerate mass for renewables (crop/forest land) , and not do so for non renewables, and only address process energy? MAXergy does just that: Its either both in or both out. (In the latter case we would only use Embodied energy. ) But of course both should be in, since otherwise the system would only loose concentrated matter, speeding up entropy growth. And thats where thermodynamics / Exergy provides a way to include this. Translated in a practical way in Maxergy and the use of Embodied Land.

This what you get if you only look at end of pipe effects, like CO2: you miss out on losing exergy from concentrated (non-renewable) matter in the system. Since it does not involve CO2. You can deplete (ie dilute) all copper, or Cobalt (batteries), and its nowhere evaluated or included in a system going to thermodynamic equilibrium.

Which in fact is the second main difference : in Maxergy its not about CO2, but about energy input. ( in fact about the use of outside -earth- system energy input as the only way to avoid entropy growth in the system itself. )

There is a few other reasons:

CO2 emissions are always there even when using renewable resources, like Solar energy based biomass. Its not a distinctive indicator. And fossil fuels are also biomass, for which we can make a Embodied land calculation.

CO2 is a end of pipe approach , in MAXergy its chosen to use input approach

CO2 is just one of many disrupting effects of fossil fuel use.

In short if we have our energy balance arranged, automatically CO2 is in balance, as well as many other side effects. If we look at CO2 alone, we could store it all, by CCS , and state that all problems are solved. Which makes no sense. ***

In Maxergy its also accepted that energy and mass are in fact one and the same: energy is mass and mass is energy: you cant evaluate the one without the other: it would only shift burdens. To make products, energy is required, which require materials to produce equipment to convert energy etc

Thats why the name: “Maximising Exergy” ( from energy and mass-in the system)


* in another update I will explain more about the Exergy-entropy and emergy relations, A paper is in process.

** Not explored yet, but the footprint experience could be well integrate din MAXergy when it comes to Embodied Land for renewables. Add to Task 2, See research questions section.

***see also page 11 of the 2013 report ( this website/ The Method, where tool development in general is analysed, and the footprint compared. ( to be updated soon with the knowledge under * )

(the picture below is the treemap form Embodied Land in the excel example )

maxergy test treemap 3