How Energy Is Used In America

Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) has published flow charts (also referred to as “Sankey Diagrams”) of energy use. This allows energy to be “visualized as it flows from resources (Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, etc.), through transformations (electricity generation) to end uses (Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Transportation).”

Walter Hickey over at Business Insider makes a few poignant observations:

  • Renewables — Hydro, geothermal, wind and solar — are still absurdly tiny in the grand scheme of things, despite significant investment and recent growth. 
  • The amount of rejected energy — that’s energy lost in transportation — should make every American wince. It’s just shocking how much energy is lost due to grid inefficiencies, heat waste, and exhaust. 
  • Petroleum runs cars and industry, but nowhere near as much electrical generation as one might expect. 
  • Natural Gas use has grown, driven almost entirely by use in electrical generation. Coal use has demonstrably shrunk. 
  • Nuclear power declined since 2011, which is disappointing due to how inexpensive it is.
Also of interest are “Carbon Flows”:
2012_US_Carbon