Saturday, March 27, 2010

Energy Intensity of Urban and Intercity Passenger Modes

Here are some more charts showing the energy intensity of various travel modes. The data comes from

Gagnon, Luc. Comparaison des options énergétiques: Options de transport. Hydro-Quebec. 2008.

I built these charts using the data in Gagnon's paper. (Actually, he had some charts in there as well; they were really good and look a lot like these. But they were in French, plus they were in PDF format, which often gives weird results when you swipe an image for, say, a PowerPoint presentation for a class you're teaching.)

If you want to make a point on energy and transport options to an English-speaking audience, feel free to use mine.


  1. My experience, using a Powertap Powermeter, is that a bicycle uses about 20 kilojoules/km.

    Which calls into question the validity of the other numbers. . .


  2. Interesting. This kind of calculation varies sometimes depending on methodology and system boundaries.

    (For instance, I made the point in my lecture last week that 300kj of electricity vs. 800kj of diesel is really comparing apples to orange juice, because to get that 300kj of electricity you had to burn something like 750kj of coal.)

    I have some numbers on performance of certain classes of vehicle (though not SUV's) and these numbers seem broadly consistent. E.g. a litre of gasoline is something like 34 MJ and the compact car uses one-eleventh of that to cover a km... that's about 11km to the litre... which sounds about right... I'm going from memory here so I might be off a bit but ballpark.