While looking over some of the comments on my Human Bicycle Power post I found one that linked to the YouTube video of a group of cyclists working to power one family's home. I highly recommend watching the video because it helps to give you an idea of the amount of power we use in our daily lives. Many people have no clue about the scale required for usable power generation, let alone the basics of how we use electricity; which is why I wrote the post, What is a kWh?
Put another way: The nuclear plant I used to work at (during a summer internship in college) was rated at a little over 2.5 gigawatts (GW)! That is 2,500 megawatts! This means that when all the reactors are operating at 100% then 2.5 gigawatts of power flows to the electric grid. So what if you wanted to replace this nuclear station with cyclists?
In my post on human bicycle power I showed that the 2009 Mens 35-39 Age group Hour record holder produced an average of a little over 300 Watts of power. While this is well over the capabilities of the general population, let's use this number for the amount of power that cyclists will be able to produce if they were to replace the nuclear station.
So, using our math skills:
2.5 gigawatts = 2,500,000,000 watts (yes, that's a lot of watts)
To determine how many cyclists we would need on a bicycle generator producing 300 watts of power:
2,500,000,000 watts ÷ 300 watts/cyclist = 8,333,333.33 cyclists (maybe one of them has a little kid that produces 100 watts :) )
It would take 8.33 million very good cyclists to replace one nuclear station!
Well, at least we can improve healthcare and attack clean energy at the same time (I chose nuclear because I worked at that facility, but if I had my way we would replace all the coal and natural gas generating facilities first).