Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ag Energy Compared to Oil Production Per Day

As I work to translate how much energy we use to grow, make and move the food we eat I decided to correlate the energy to the amount of oil that OPEC and non-OPEC nations produced each day.

To do this I had to simplify some numbers and I did this mainly be equating all energy use to gasoline. I expect that some people would call this way to much simplification for a very complex set of variables. For many others, however, this can help make sense, bring home, and simplify this complexity. Also, gasoline has a middle of the road energy rating, with diesel having more British Thermal Units (Btu), and propane having less (see BPA's Conversion table), so it is arguably the best vehicle for this work (pun intended).

Using the percentages of energy use discussed in a previous posting about Energy Use in Food, I calculated the number of days of the world's daily oil production across each segment of the ag and food sector:
  • Ag Production: 5.1 days of world oil production
  • Transportation: 3.4 days
  • Processing: 3.9 days
  • Packaging: 1.7 days
  • Food retail: 1.0 days
  • Restaurants & catering: 1.7 days
  • Home preparation & storage: 7.6 days
Here is a screenshot of the worksheet I used to make these calculations. Click on the image for a bigger version. If we just use OPEC's daily output there are almost twice the number of days for each segment.


Anonymous said...

That's great work, and very interesting.

I would not have predicted that home prep and storage take the largest slice, but (after the fact) it makes perfect sense. Lots of ovens heated for a single meal. Lots of individual and inefficient refrigerators keeping left-overs cold.

Anonymous said...

oops, that was me.

- odograph