20 August, 2011

Fuel is Cheap - Day 276

Odo 1969

We keep hearing of the “End of Cheap Oil”, but that's still a long long way away.

Lets look at what energy has cost in the past and compare it to the current cost. Not the very recent past but rather a bit further back. To get some perspective.

Until the very recent past, if you wanted to do something you needed either a horse or a person to do it for you. Say you decided to go for a motor boat ride. You'd need some galley slaves. Now each galley slave, if they're fit, young and strong, could reasonably be expected to put out about 200 watts. So if you work them for 10 hours a day at that level (which is pretty hard work!) you could get 2 kWh of energy out of them. That's about what you'd get from burning 0.6 litres of petrol in a reasonably efficient petrol engine. That means today you can buy the equivalent of a day's labour of a strong slave for less than a dollar. It doesn't just apply to motorboating, but everything, including growing the food that drives those galley slaves.

Come back and tell me oil isn't cheap any more when the cost of 2 kWh roughly equates to a day's labour cost. In the meantime, while oil is absurdly cheap it's going to be hard to convince people to switch away from it.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully the level of science literacy is better in Australia and other countries compared to the USA. Most Americans don't have the slightest clue about the difference between a hypothesis and a theory. If America, one of the world's largest consumers of petroleum, doesn't understand basic science, we are all doomed.