Thursday, 10 January 2008

Energy Consumption by Person / Vehicle Type

During the past couple of months I’ve come across some figures on energy output and consumption that I thought were worth sharing. Here goes …

Human V Oil / Coal Based Energy
The amount of energy in a litre of fuel is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy used by one man working 8 hours a day for 3.3 days.

Freighting Cargo
A litre of fuel will power the transport of 450 kg cargo over the following distances:
170 km by rail via freight train
17 km by road via freight truck
0.4 km by air via plane

My data source for the ‘Human Energy’ figure is David Marsh from a talk he gave at last year’s Carbon Farming Expo and Conference at Mudgee. The ‘Freighting Cargo’ numbers are from Fred Hays at the Center for Sustainable Resources in the USA. I’ve converted their figures as appropriate from gallons, miles and pounds to metric. (NB: One gallon in the USA equals 3.8 litres). Obviously there are a whole bunch of assumptions behind all of the figures. Whilst I’m sure one could spend plenty of time debating the specific magnitude of each calculation I doubt there would be much room for debating the overall fuel use rankings.

I don't have any figures on the amount of fuel required to transport goods via sea, however one suggestion that I read recently seems to have significant potential - using technology to set sails on cargo ships to leverage wind at appropriate times.

Fuel Consumption in Sydney each Tuesday
Fuel prices in Sydney and Melbourne vary of a weekly cycle, with Tuesday being the cheapest given consumers need to purchase is less. Prices are increased by the fuel outlet owners before and over the weekends to catch those consumers who need to top-up before going on non-work related trips and visits. The total fuel demand every Tuesday in Sydney is in the vicinity of 11 M litres, which approximates to the amount of liquid that would be held in 11 Olympic size swimming pools. On days other than Tuesday demand is around 5 M litres.
Given that the total population of Australia is now around 22 M this means that every Tuesday the fuel volume sold is roughly 0.5 litre for EVERY man woman and child in this entire country. Reflecting back on the amount of energy contained in each litre of fuel mentioned at the start of this post the amount of energy contained in the fuel sold in Sydney each Tuesday equates to the amount of energy that would be expended by almost 320,000,000 men doing manual work for one hour.

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