A Simple Calculation

to Convert

Energy Usage
(per day) to Horsepower

--- alias 'hot-horse-equivalents'

(to express huge numbers
in a more meaningful way)

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This PETRO-LIQUIDS-to-Horsepower Conversion Page

! Note !
Some text and links and images on this page
may be changed (or augmented) --- if/when
I re-visit this page.


Near the bottom of the home page of this site, there is a simple calculation that shows that the heat-generating 'potential' of the 2-Billion-plus gasoline-and-diesel-burning internal combustion engines on planet Earth is likely to be the equivalent of heat from about 2 billion times 300 horses = 600 BILLION horses.

So, in the past 120 years or so (about 1900 to 2020), humans have effectively added about HALF A TRILLION potentially-heat-generating horses to planet Earth

--- almost 100 times more 'horse-equivalents' than the 7-plus billion humans on Earth (100 horses for every human)

--- and about 10,000 times more than the 60 million actual horses in the world.

    (Luckily, nowhere near all of those 'horse-equivalents' are working 24 hours a day, every day.)

That bottom section of the home page also points out that --- in addition to internal combustion engines --- burning LIQUID petroleum fuels --- generating enormous amounts of heat into the atmosphere . . .

there are millions of industrial and residential NATURAL-GAS ovens, kilns, furnaces, heaters, smelters, foundries, gas turbines for electricity generation, etc. --- running 24/7 --- or 3/7 --- or 16/5 --- or thereabout.

Those millions of furnaces-ovens-kilns-etc are generating (every day) billions of 'hot horse equivalents' of heat by the consumption of the world's NATURAL GAS.

    (By 'hot-horse-equivalent' is meant the heat generated by a hard-working, untiring 'super horse' --- working all day, every day --- without the horse-poop.)

Besides LIQUID-petroleum fuels and Natural GAS, there is a third major category of HEAT-GENERATION --- from SOLID fossil fuel (coal).

Fossil fuels can be categorized into THREE major types:

  • LIQUID petroleum
    (including gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel --- distilled from oil)

  • Natural GAS

  • SOLID coal

This page will concentrate on LIQUID PETROLEUM (oil distillates).

The intent of this page is to provide a simple arithmetic calculation (using only multiplication and division of a few quantities) to convert the world consumption of Petroleum LIQUIDS (that is, OIL distillates, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel) to horsepower --- or what could be called 'hot super-horse equivalents'.

    We can provide a more precise definition of 'hot horse equivalent' than the rather-vague 'hard working horse --- all day' description above.

    A 'hot horse equivalent' is the heat energy being generated constantly at the same energy generation rate as a horse lifting 550 pounds one foot in each second, every second of every day.

    This is based on the definition of a unit of 'horsepower'.

    In other words, a 'hot horse equivalent' is the constant heat generation from a hard-working 'super horse' that never gets tired and works 24 hours a day, day after day --- lifting a 550 pound weight at a rate of one foot each second.

Note that power is a measure of the amount of energy created or expended per unit of time.

Also note that a 'foot-pound' is a unit-of-measure of energy --- a pound of force acting through a distance of one foot.

Then one unit of horsepower is 550 of those 'foot-pounds' of energy being expended (or used) in one second.

    Note that an adult horse weighs about 380 to 550 kilograms (840 to 1,210 lb) --- roughly as much as 6 humans. You can expect a horse to be as powerful as about 6 athletic humans.

    Then, to equal the power-output of a horse, each of those humans could be expected to lift about 550 / 6 = 91.6 pounds per second.

    That is a heavy load to lift that fast --- especially if you were expected to do that all day, every day, day after day.

    This may give you an idea of the energy expenditure of one 'hot super horse'. It is roughly the equivalent of 6 humans, each of which is continuously raising 91.6 pounds (almost 100 pounds) every second of every minute of every day.

    That is an impossible task --- so we are talking about 6 'super-humans'.

Note that mechanical energy of moving objects is eventually converted into heat energy (vibration of molecules --- in various objects, such as air-water-earth) as the moving objects (cars, turbines, tools, etc) finally return to rest.

    For example:
    A car gives off heat energy from the engine and exhaust system when it comes to rest. And the car was transferring heat energy into the air passing through its radiator when the car was running. And the car was 'bashing into' air molecules when it was running, transferring much of its mechanical energy into heat energy in the air (increased velocity of N2 and O2 molecules). Also much of its mechanical energy was transferred into friction (heat energy) as gears and shafts and tires and brake-pads rotated against adjacent surfaces.


There are several ways that the annual world-wide consumption of Petroleum-LIQUIDS could be converted to 'horse-equivalents' (horsepower) --- using various units of measure and various conversion factors.

If we could get good world consumption figures for the various liquids (including gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and heating oil), we could do a conversion for each of those liquids.

I have not found good figures for diesel fuel, so, for now, let us use the annual world-wide consumption of OIL --- and make an adjustment for non-fuel uses of oil.

Here is an outline of one method of converting petro-liquids usage to 'horse-equivalents':

  1. Find the daily consumption of oil --- in barrels, say.

    Graphs like the following indicate that, around 2015 to 2020, global consumption of oil was 100 MILLION barrels per day.

    (Note that the daily consumption of oil --- mainly by burning it --- has approximately tripled over the mere 52 years between 1965 and 2017. Compare that to the near-zero burning of petroleum oil in the many thousands and millions of years on Earth previous to 1900. Nearly all the oil-burning has occurred, by humans, in the past 120 years, between 1900 and 2020.)

  2. Find a conversion factor for the energy in a MILLION-BARRELS of OIL to energy units of HORSEPOWER-HOURS.

    For example, kylesconverter.com shows that 1 million barrels of OIL is equal to 2,278,941,581 horsepower-hours --- about 2,279 million horsepower-hours.

  3. There are 24 hours in a day.

  4. We can divide the daily consumption of oil --- 100 million barrels --- by 24 hours to get a consumption rate of 4.16 million barrels per hour.

  5. We can multiply

    4.16 million-barrels per hour

    by the conversion factor

    2,279 MILLION horsepower-hours per million-barrels

    to give

    9,480 MILLION = 9.48 BILLION horsepower
    (or 'horse-equivalents' --- of heat energy generation per unit of time)

A units-of-measure check:

million-barrels / hour   times   horsepower-hours / million-barrels



because the hour and million-barrels units cancel leaving horsepower.

Admittedly, not all the world's oil is distilled into 'petro-liquids-to-be-burned' such as gasoline and diesel fuel and jet fuel.

In fact, if the 'Non-energy use' of the following pie charts is presumed to represent oil that is not burned (such as oil used for lubrication purposes), then we should probably adjust our 9.48 billion 'horse-equivalents' figure down by about 17 percent.

That would give .83 x 9.48 = 7.87 BILLION 'hot-horse-equivalents' in the burning of oil products (distillates).

Note that these pie charts indicate that most oil-burning is done by 'Road' --- presumably vehicles such as cars and trucks --- and perhaps some by road-building (energy used to melt asphalt).

Much less oil-burning is done by airplanes ('Aviation') and trains ('Rail') and ships ('Navigation').

And the oil-burning done by homes ('Residential') and 'Industry' is significantly less than 'Road'.

The bottom-line :

Due to annual world-wide consumption of OIL-distillates, humans have added the equivalent of about 8 BILLION heat-generating, 24-hours-a-day, non-tiring, hard-working super horses to the planet

--- about 133 times more horses than the 60 million actual horses in the world (which are NOT 'super-horses' working 24/7).

This 8 billion 'oil-distillates-horses' of power is being used/generated by about 7.5 billion humans ---

in addition to their NATURAL-GAS-burning furnaces-ovens-kilns-etc

and in addition to all their COAL burning in the world, that is going on 24/7.

Here is a link to a page showing that there are about 10 billion 'hot-untiring-horse-equivalents' in the COAL being burned world-wide.

In addition, here is a link to a page showing that there are about 6 billion 'hot-untiring-horse-equivalents' in the NATURAL GAS being burned world-wide.

So --- adding up the 'horse-equivalents' from Natural-Gas and Coal and Oil-Distillates --- about 7.5 billion humans are responsible for at least 6 + 10 + 8 = 24 BILLION hot-super-horse-equivalents of heat generation every day on planet Earth.

This is about 400 times more horse-equivalents than the 60 million actual horses in the world (which are not 'super-horses' working all day, every day).

Another way of looking at this:

Each human has, on average, about 24-billion-super-horses / 7.5-billion-humans = 3.2 super-horse-equivalents working for them --- 24 hours a day --- every day.

And if we use the observation above (that the power of a horse is approximately equal to the power of 6 humans), then each human has, on average, about 3.2 x 6 = 19.2 'strenuously-working, tireless, heat-generating human equivalents' working for them --- 24 hours a day --- every day.

So, in addition to the 7.5 billion humans on Earth (most of whom are NOT strenuously working), there are 7.5 billion x 19.2 = 144 billion 'hot human equivalents' constantly generating heat on planet Earth.

    (Each of these 'hot human equivalents' is generating heat equivalent to lifting 550 / 6 = 91.7 pounds one foot in one second --- every second of every day.)

This has implications to the issue of over-population of the Earth --- not just land-limits, but also heat-limits.

See the discussion of the "Father of Microbiology" Antonie van Leeuwenhoek at the bottom of the home page of this site.


Humans have some work to do, if they want to stop over-heating their world and avoid wiping themselves out.

Note that the neutralizing effect of glaciers-and-snow-and-ice is fast disappearing. When they are gone, the Earth temperatures will REALLY start rising fast.

For further facts on OIL heat-generation and atmospheric heating, here are some web searches to try (and to modify).

You could try changing some of these 'keywords' to look for information of interest to you.

The coal-AND-oil-distillates-AND-natural-gas being burned
every day on planet Earth is the equivalent of the heat generation
from about 24 BILLION of these horses working hard, 24 hours per day.

Bottom of this
Petro-LIQUIDS-to-Horsepower Conversion page.

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Page history:

Page was posted 2020 Aug 23.

Page was posted 2020 Aug 24.
(Added some wording for clarification.)

Page was changed 2020 Dec 01.
(Revised several sections of text on this page --- and moved a discussion of 'number of internal combustion engines' to a separate page. Also replaced a discussion of population-land-heat limits with a link to the bottom of the home page of this site.)

Note that the energy generation (esp. heat generation)
on planet Earth comes roughly equally from
Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas

This walrus is surprised to see any ice at all.
Walruses are having to gather on 'dry' land because
their ice floe resting places are disappearing.

The USA is heating Mother Earth the most ---
but China is coming on strong.

'Asia-Pacific' and 'North America' and 'Europe'
are doing more consuming than producing.

The 'Middle East' and 'Africa' are doing
more producing than consuming.

There are way too many of these heat-generators on planet Earth.

We need to break a bad habit --- actually, an addiction.

Nuclear power is NOT 'clean energy' --- nowhere close.