You may have seen the article in the NZ Herald on Saturday about our use of fossil fuels (The Carbon Party’s Over, Chris Barton, NZ Herald 8 August 2009). The bit I loved about this article was translating a barrel of oil (159 litres) into more everyday terms – namely the energy in it is equivalent to 3500 cyclists giving it their all for an hour. I guess that is the fundamental problem – oil contains a lot of energy that’s really easy, and really cheap (even at 149 dollars a barrel) to get at.
Along the same vein, I thought I’d turn my electricity bill into something easier to grasp. At 20 kWh a day for winter electricity (some days it is more than that) that gives me 72 thousand kilojoules, or, in terms of kcal, 17000 kcal. That’s about three and a half kilogrammes of chocolate that I would have to eat if I wanted to power my house by bicycle. At about 1000 kcal an hour, for hard cycling, and about 20 dollars a kilogram for chocolate, it would take me about seventeen hours pedalling a day and about seventy dollars in choc to power my house.
Or I could just plug the computer back into the mains, which, on balance, is the easier and cheaper option. Therein lies our energy problem