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Friday, June 17, 2011

Kilowatts for Gallons

Gasoline and Oil: "How much electricity does it take to make a gallon of gasoline? We don't know - but here's one stab at it. Ballpark figures only, and NOT a supportable conclusion. The most important message to take away is that it is not trivial! This part of gasoline is ignored by the folks who are concerned about the big impact on our electrical grid if we were to suddenly shift all transportation from gasoline to electricity.

To extract one gallon of gasoline (or equivalent distillate): 9.66 kWh (maybe not all in the form of electricity*)

To refine that gallon: 2.73 kWh additional energy (maybe not all in the form of electricity*)
Total: 12.39 kWh per gallon.

*Roughly one-third of the energy content of a gallon of gasoline produced from California wells is input from natural gas. Less than 2/3's is net energy (probably a lot less!).

So I can get 24 miles in my ICE on a gallon of gasoline, or I can get 41 miles (at 300wh/mile) in my RAV4EV just using the energy to refine that gallon. Alternatively - energy use (electricity and natural gas) state wide goes DOWN if a mile in a RAV4EV is substituted for a mile in an ICE!

Assumptions (sorry, lots of apples and oranges comparisons here):

Data from these sources:
petro industry numbers Word HTML