Sunday, September 04, 2005

Oil burning or Manpower

This is based on information found on the UK Goverment DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) website - taken at face value.

1 TOE (Tonne of Oil Equivalent) is the energy which will be released from 262 gallons of crude oil.
1 TOE is 11.6 MWh of electrical energy or 10M Calories (where one Calorie is 1kCal - the normal measure of energy used by food labels).

An adult (often heard figure) needs about 2K Calories per day for normal life.

So 1 TOE contains the energy equivalent of one days food for 5000 people.

1 TOE, if you're buying crude oil at todays price, will cost you around $70 per barrel (42 gallons - I realise I'm probably mixing imperial and US gallons here).
But 1 TOE is 262 gallons, so you'll need just over 6 barrels.
This will cost you a bit more than $400.

Or to put it another way 1 barrel of oil, costing $70, will feed about 840 people for one day (energy conversion efficiencies aside and assuming you used it all as chemically engineered food somehow).

The energy densities of petroleum and diesel fuel are approximately the same. So 42 gallons of either will yield approximately the same 840 people fed.

1 gallon of diesel will drive me, in my elderly car, approximately 30 miles. Or it will feed 20 people for one day.

If it was used to feed those 20 people, would they be willing to push my car 30 miles ?
Would that be sufficient payment ?

I don't use my car very often. I live very near where I work, mainly because of luck and not any great forethought on my part.

Why is is Oil such a cheap slave ? I expect to have access to Oil. My children expect to be able to drive, in 10 years or so, as often as they want.
Until recently I hadn't really questioned the idea that I would always be able to maintain friendships over distances of 30 miles, to get a job 50 miles away if needed, and drive around as required to keep this 'lifestyle' going.
To be truthful I would only have the occasional lucid moment where I realised how privileged and lucky I was to have a car and free use of it.

What will I do when the world peak of oil production is reached and my 'lifestyle' has to contract to the fit places I can walk to ?
How expensive will Oil get ?
Will I be able to continue selling secondhand books for a living ?
Will there be any jobs I can do ?
Will I end up pushing cars around for a living ?

What is your plan ?

UK fossil fuel consumption figures found

I found this document on the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) website :

Some interesting choices have been made about presentation by the document's authors. For example note that an order of magnitude logarithmic scale is used (chart 1.1.1) to indicate the growth of Renewables and Waste as an energy source. This gives the purely visual impression that the green energy production sector has grown to about 1/4 of total energy consumption, of course it has not, it is more like 2% of the total.