Toaster Challenge

I have made this point before: Energy is extremely cheap in our age, if you compare it to using human work.

The last time my headline was “Energy Slaves”, because of an Wikipedia article with that title.

Now a team has put Olympic track cyclist Robert Förstemann to work for toasting one piece of bread. The Youtube video below has over 1.6 million views at this time.

He makes it. With his pure power, he is able to generate enough electricity to power a 700 Watt toaster for the time it takes to get one slice of bread toasted.

But this leaves him exhausted.

And the grand total of energy generated is 0.021 kWh (spelled wrong as 0,021 in the video, because these guys are German).

Right now, one kWh of solar electricity from a project larger than 1 MW sells at a feed-in tariff of 8.96 cents Euro in Germany.

That means the effort shown by Olympic athlete Förstemann in the video above would be worth 0.021 by 8.96 or 0.18816 cents Euro.

Good luck finding anyone to put in that kind of effort for your breakfast toast at that wage rate.

Some people think that electricity is “expensive” if it costs 20 cents Euro a kWh instead of 8.96.

But even at twenty cents per kWh, that effort would still be worth only 0.42 cents. That number is still ridiculously low.

Right now would be a rather good choice if one where asked in which time of history until now one would want to live. We get the benefits of cheap energy by burning all the fossil fuel and leave dealing with the unfortunate consequences of that to later generations.

I call it Paradise Era.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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