Engineer Poet has pointed out that I may be too pessimistic about the ability of nuclear power to fill the liquid fuel gap, which in turn led me to realize I had made an error in previous posts:
“One of them is you would have to build 10,000 of the largest power plants that are feasible by engineering standards in order to replace the 10 terrawatts of fossil fuel we're burning today.” - Professor David Goodstein
I calculated the proportionate energy cost as being composed only of oil, when I should have taken all fossil fuels into account. In other words, using David Goodstein’s numbers, 4651 nuclear plants worldwide would equal the energy contained in the oil we burn. The remainder would fill the gap for coal and natural gas.
However, in addition to that, E.P. points out that much of the energy content of oil burned in cars is simply wasted, such that it is not necessary to build the “energy equivalent” in nuclear power plants to receive the same benefit in output, should we use efficient batteries.
“An average power of 183.5 GW isn't huge compared to other energy usage. The summer electric generation capacity of the USA in 2002 was over 900 gigawatts, roughly 5 times as much as the average output of all gasoline and diesel powered transport.”
One still must consider energy losses as electricity is transported across the grid, stored in the batteries, and the energy cost associated in constructing and maintaining a trunk full of batteries for every car. I don’t know how that stacks up to petrol engine efficiencies.
Oil is only part of the depletion picture, and hybrids are trickling in to the installed base of vehicles slowly, with insufficient battery life to be used without fuel. Complex industrial requirements aside, every little bit helps when talking about the coming wave of depletion. Food for thought.