This “spaghetti diagram” (aka Sankey diagram, or Energy Flow Chart officially) is the 2008 version. Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) has been making these things since the 1970s. It’s more detailed than a simpler national energy flow diagram because it includes “rejected energy.” It’s also more complex — it actually includes within itself the electricity flow diagram. It’s a pretty cool visualization.
The main thing I dislike is that it doesn’t split up transportation or electricity generation “rejected energy” by sector. Since these are really the two biggest sources of “rejected energy,” you can’t see which group is the biggest “rejector.”
Below, in an undated but funkier design, they’ve not only split up transportation into light duty vehicles, freight/other, and aircraft, they’ve also added domestic and net imports to petroleum and natural gas. They still haven’t split up “Electricity Generation, Transmission & Distribution Losses,” so we don’t know who […]
I like the general concept of motivating behavioural changes for the low energy option by using fun, beauty, or good design. The larger message here is that personal changes for climate change really need to be better, either more beautiful, more fun, or more healthy, than the other choices.
Here’s a picture from What You Need to Know about Energy by the National Academy of Sciences. It shows 100 energy units of coal being used by an incandescent bulb to produce light that has only 2 energy units:
Reprinted with permission from "What you need to know about energy," 2008, by the National Academy of Sciences, Courtesy of the National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
Incandescent bulbs get hot because only 2/36 (about 5%) of the energy coming into the house to power the bulb comes out as light — the rest of the energy produces heat. If you trace the energy back to the power plant, it turns out a mere 2% of the energy from the coal is doing the desired lighting job! The power plant itself loses 62% of the coal’s energy! Compact fluorescents use about 5% of the coal’s energy — better, but not […]
This cartoon pretty much sums it up. Let’s plan on the stuff we know works, and invest in the research we know might lead somewhere. Not hold out for alien finger’s crossed we don’t understand it technology.
“you want 3 TW of new nuclear. that’s a 2.3GW plant every week for 25 years… you have 1X 3GW plant a week for 25 years which would overshoot your goal. am i missing something?” First, and to be clear, I don’t “want” 3TW. In doing the numbers on what would be required to stay under 450ppm of CO2 it looks like you need to create 11.5-12TW of clean power as well as keeping demand at current levels (16TW). I tried to agnostically apportion that 11.5 TW across known working technologies, solar PV, solar thermal, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and biofuels. It’s a thought experiment, and I would be happy with any solution for climate change, hence more or less of any one of these is fine with me as long as it all adds up. And yes, 450 isn’t necessarily a ‘safe’ target, so I’d be happy for that […]
I love a hot shower in the morning. While it’s not a human right just yet, occasionally it feels like one. So how much energy does it take to have a hot shower?
The simple version looks like this:
First we establish the conversion units…
liters_in_gallon=3.78541178 H2O_heat_capacity=4.18 (J/g/K) seconds_in_day = 60*60*24 density_water = 1 (g/cm^3)
Now assume 2 gallons per minute of shower from my low flow shower head and assume 5 minute hot showers at 40 degrees celsius (about 100F).
showers_per_day =1 gallons_per_minute =2 minutes_per_shower =5 liters_per_shower = liters_in_gallon * gallons_per_minute * minutes_per_shower grams_per_shower = liters_per_shower * 1000 * density_water shower_Temperature=40 ambient_Temperature=8 shower_heat_Joules=showers_per_day *(grams_per_shower * H2O_heat_capacity *(shower_Temperature-ambient_Temperature)) daily_shower_Watts = shower_heat_Joules/seconds_in_day
shower_heat_Joules = 5063400 daily_shower_Watts = 58.6038 Which is of course just the energy or power that my water heater consumes. The above estimate is probably low because I assumed 100% efficient water heater, and no losses in the […]
Energy is measured in Joules (J) Power is measured in Watts (W). 1 Watt = 1 Joule / second
If you would like to quantitatively understand the relationship between your lifestyle, global energy use, and climate change, you need to establish the language with which you can translate between these things. There are many different ways we use energy, many different ways we produce energy, and many different consequences environmentally. Power and energy are being measured around us all of the time. You get your electricity bill in kilowatt hours (kWh), your gas bill in Therms or British Thermal Units (BTUs), your car’s performance is measured in horsepower, and your lightbulbs are rated in watts. To compare these things you need a common set of units. The first problem with comparing these things is that some of them (BTUs and kWh) are measures of energy consumed, and some of them […]
If you would like to quantitatively understand the relationship between your lifestyle, global energy use, and climate change, you need to establish the language with which you can translate between these things. There are many different ways we use energy, many different ways we produce energy, and many different consequences environmentally. Power and energy are being measured around us all of the time. You get your electricity bill in kilowatt hours (kWh), your gas bill in Therms or British Thermal Units (BTUs), your car’s performance is measured in horsepower, and your lightbulbs are rated in watts. To compare these things you need a common set of units. The first problem with comparing these things is that some of them (BTUs and kWh) are measures of energy consumed, and some of them (horsepower and watts) are measures of power. To understand the rest of this book, you need an intuition for […]
1. Your energy consumption is a result of your lifestyle choices.
2. Global energy consumption is the result of everyone’s choices.
3. Energy can be generated from many sources.
4. Different energy sources have different environmental effects.
5. We are collectively choosing the global climate by choosing how we generate this energy.
6. Our climate choice (PPM) determines how much carbon dioxide we can emit using fossil fuels.
7. Producing enough energy for humanity while solving the climate problem is an enormous engineering challenge, but within the limits of what we can do today.
I’ve cut and pasted in the chat room chat below from today’s webcast. Blue is who. Black is what they asked/said. Red is answers and pointers from me.
from O’Reilly Media to All Participants: Hi Everyone, thanks for joining us today. We’ll begin at 10 am PT. There will be silence or faint music until then. from O’Reilly Media to All Participants: Hi Everyone—thanks for joining us today. The presentation will begin at 10 am PT. There will be silence or faint music until then. from Pat Walsh to All Participants: for the streaming audio: should I be hearing background music of any sort or any other noise at this time? or is silence correct at this point? from O’Reilly Media to All Participants:
If you’re a twitter user, we’re using the hashtag #energyliteracy for this webcast from Pat Walsh to All Participants: thank you from Raju Varghese to All […]
When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See! This our father did for us.”
I love this quote. It captures more comprehensively what I have been trying to say when I describe “Heirloom technologies”. Amortising the embodied energy of the things we make and use over a much longer period, by making them robust and beautiful.
Today I’m doing a webcast for O’Reilly media on Energy and Energy Literacy. I’m making the slides available here:
I’m continually reminded of how difficult it is for people just go get past the difference between energy and power. To get a full picture of rate of energy use (power) we need to talk about both and their units, but it certainly makes it a cumbersome conversation to join afresh.
Another link with a question mark from Tim O’Reilly. He does like to antagonize me:
$10 per barrel oil sounds awesome. But… with everything that sounds too good to be true I think I’d like to ask a few more questions:
Awesome. (If true, and we gather all plastic) that can cover around 0.5% of our oil use for transportation. Very likely it’s a plasma or similar type of gasifier “infrared energy”. hmm that could be interpreted as just heating it… About 0.5% of oil is used for making plastics, so best case, that’s what you’d get back if we gathered all of it.
probably the reason their $10 a barrel is a believable number is that they get paid $160/tonne for disposing of the waste (that’s a typical number in the US). So if it costs $140 to process a ton of waste, they get […]
At first blush, this looks like a fabulous idea:
Turn roadways into an enormous solar cell and get lots of other advantages like better new infrastructure. A long while ago, I looked at making solar roadways (and parking lots and driveways and footpaths and….) under contract when I was at Squid-Labs : http://www.squid-labs.com/projects/cc.html
The very difficult thing about making a road is making it structurally sound enough to carry vehicles. That means it has to take very high loads, and be very durable for up to 50 years.
So putting a solar cell there is completely possible, but then you’ll need to put some protective material on top that has some texture (so the roads are not slippery) and enough resilience to last a long time. The problem is that that protective material uses A LOT of energy to produce. Perhaps the company pitching this idea has some […]
Before embarking on some enormous exercise like converting America’s energy use to 100% renewable energy, you might like to get a 20000 foot view of the impact on other things like land area use. Here are some charts to put that in perspective:
1. Land Area of the US by state, (does not include water area in those states) – note the country has been reduced to a square where each stripe is the proportional area of that state, starting with the biggest (Alaska) to the smallest.
2. Land area by use category for the US:
3. Land area required for 1000GW (1TW) each of Solar, Wind, Biofuels, and Hydroelectric. These are “all in” estimates that include capacity factor and the whole hog. Think of it as a year-round average.
4. And now we overlay them all on each-other to get a sense of just how big […]
Here’s a document from 1982, A Conceptual Framework for Energy Education, K-12, commissioned by the Department of Energy. On page 7 is a description of an “energy-literate citizen”:
Understands that we can’t make energy. Finds more efficient ways to use energy at home, at school, and on the job, for example through the use of waste heat. Has some historical perspective on energy use and extraction; for example, has an informed notion of where we stand on the fossil fuel depletion curve. Compares life-cycle costs in deciding on major purchases. Invests to save energy, for example by purchasing home insulation when it is cost-effective. Knows how much energy is being used in his/her household and where it goes. Is aware of the major sources of the energy used in his or her immediate job and in the economy as a whole, including their relative size. Understands that all energy use […]
Production data by primary energy source:
And the PDF:
US electricity production, historically, by source, (GW)
Consumption data, by source:
And the pdf:
historical electricity consumption, by sector, (GW)
Source data for both:
This I find to be a fascinating breakdown of the production and consumption of electricity for the US grid. I was a little surprised at just how high the losses are, especially as the primary energy measured in for nuclear is considered 100% effective, as is the primary energy coming in from Solar, PV, Wind, Hydro and Geothermal. What that means is the fossil fuels are even less efficient than they appear here. I’ll try to break that out in a new graph soon. I’ll also try to tease out the contribution of combined heat and power. There is an awful lot of heat going on here to be combined…
Electricity Grid, Generation Source, Consumption Sector, (GW), 2008
I was a little surprised the generation losses were quite this high….
And some nice PDF’s for your delectation:
US Electricity Generation and Use Flow Diagram 2008 (GW)
US Electricity Generation and use Flow Diagram 2008 (QUAD BTUS)
And here’s the data in spreadsheet at google:
This is the per capita energy consumption. Go NYC!
Here’s the PDF, all nice and vectored. US per capita energy consumption, by State, 2006
And this pdf:
energy use by state total (GW) 2006
All the data comes from the EIA report.
You can find it here in a google spreadsheet: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tPr87l8eOPSmIw9CkHTbp0A&output=html
Pouring over the EIA energy report for the US for 2008 and reprocessing data. Here’s some useful charts, and they are all vector based and creative commons for your pleasure:
US energy flow QUADS (PDF)
US energy flow GW (PDF)
I was just thinking about my relationship with Nuclear Power. I think we need to apply it at a much larger scale if we are to practically hit reasonable climate and energy targets, but i still have that irrational fear that says that I’d prefer to get there without it. I resolved this by thinking about my relationship with sharks when I go surfing or kitesurfing or windsurfing. The risk associated with shark attack is much much smaller than the risk of a car accident getting to the beach, yet some days that risk scares the willies out of me. I still do go surfing, of course, but I can’t take all those sharp little teeth off my mind. Most of the time I’m really comfortable with the idea of nuclear power, and it’s inherent risks (very low), yet there are some days where I am just spooked by the […]
Spending the day preparing for the Next Agenda “clean the grid” conversation to be held in San Francisco this thursday – 17 Sep 2009. http://www.nextagenda.com/
Anyway, pouring over this data: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/
And the fascinating conversion tables and historical use data and future forecast data for energy consumption.
Here’s a PDF vector file that you are welcome to use Electricity Generation and Use flow diagram 2008
here’s the data:
It contains the good the bad and the ugly of climate and energy books. Over time it will become more comprehensive and you’ll see loads of reviews coming up on the blog as I do an editorial on each of the books. For now just broswe the shelves:
And if you are a mac user, definitely try using delicious library as a management tool for your books. It’s fantastic.
Disclaimer: the books in the library are under an amazon affiliates program that puts money towards: www.howtoons.com
I spoke to a great group of designers at Compostmodern 09 – http://www.compostmodern.org/ San Francisco’s beautiful Herbst theatre, February 21st, 2009.
The main thrust of the talk is the need for designers to think very carefully about what they make and design, and its use. It was very much about heirloom design – the concept I use to describe making things that will last a very long time. For things that don’t require energy to run (electronics, kettles, stoves etc) the best way to make them “efficient” is to make them last a very long time such that the energy (and hence carbon) used to make them is amortized over a very long period.
Sadly my beautiful folding bike – www.bikefriday.com – was stolen from outside the theatre while I was giving the lecture. Where’s the justice in the universe? I’d invested in the highest quality, hand made for me, […]