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All U.S. Energy Consumption in a Giant Diagram

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All U.S. Energy Consumption in a Big Diagram

All U.S. Energy Consumption in a Giant Diagram

Today’s graphic is special type of flow chart, called a Sankey diagram.

This particular one shows the total estimated energy consumption in the United States in 2015, and how energy flowed from source to the final destination. The graphic comes to us from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

The beauty of a Sankey is in its simplicity and and effectiveness. No information is left out, and we can really see the full energy picture from a 10,000 foot view.

Wasted Effort

The U.S. is estimated to have consumed 97.5 quads of energy in 2015.

What’s a quad? It’s equal to a quadrillion BTUs, which is roughly comparable to any of these:

  • 8,007,000,000 gallons (US) of gasoline
  • 293,071,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh)
  • 36,000,000 tonnes of coal
  • 970,434,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas
  • 25,200,000 tonnes of oil
  • 252,000,000 tonnes of TNT
  • 13.3 tonnes of uranium-235

It’s a lot of energy – and if you look at the diagram, you’ll see most of it is actually wasted.

It’s estimated that 59.1 quads (60.6% of all energy) is “rejected energy”, a fancy term for energy that is produced but not used in an effective way. For example, when gasoline is burned in a car, most of the energy comes off as heat instead of doing productive work (ie. turning the crank shaft). The average internal combustion engine is only 20% efficient, and people get excited even when they approach 40% efficiency.

While gas engines are horribly inefficient, so are other energy sources. If you look at electricity production on the diagram, you’ll see that 67% of all energy going to generate electricity is wasted.

It’s the laws of physics, but there are still many areas for improvement to increase this efficiency.

A Long Way to Go for Green Energy

As we explained in Part 2 of our Battery Series, there are still some big obstacles to overcome for green energy, batteries, and energy storage.

By looking at all energy use (including non-electrical energy used in automobiles, industrial, etc.), this diagram helps put things in even more perspective. To make a big impact, green energy not only has to make inroads in electrical generation, but it also has to supplant the 25.4 quads of energy being used in the automotive sector. This is why projects like the massive Tesla Gigafactory 1 are such a big deal. If Elon Musk is successful in his mission, the whole diagram and our energy mix would change dramatically.

For now, however, green is still a blip on the radar. Looking at total energy consumption in 2015, solar only accounted for 0.53 quads of energy. Meanwhile, wind accounted for 1.82 quads.

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Energy

The World’s Biggest Nuclear Energy Producers

China has grown its nuclear capacity over the last decade, now ranking second on the list of top nuclear energy producers.

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A cropped chart breaking down the biggest nuclear energy producers, by country, in 2022.

The World’s Biggest Nuclear Energy Producers

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on Apple or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Scientists in South Korea recently broke a record in a nuclear fusion experiment. For 48 seconds, they sustained a temperature seven times that of the sun’s core.

But generating commercially viable energy from nuclear fusion still remains more science fiction than reality. Meanwhile, its more reliable sibling, nuclear fission, has been powering our world for many decades.

In this graphic, we visualized the top producers of nuclear energy by their share of the global total, measured in terawatt hours (TWh). Data for this was sourced from the Nuclear Energy Institute, last updated in August 2022.

 

 

Which Country Generates the Most Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy production in the U.S. is more than twice the amount produced by China (ranked second) and France (ranked third) put together. In total, the U.S. accounts for nearly 30% of global nuclear energy output.

However, nuclear power only accounts for one-fifth of America’s electricity supply. This is in contrast to France, which generates 60% of its electricity from nuclear plants.

RankCountryNuclear Energy
Produced (TWh)
% of Total
1🇺🇸 U.S.77229%
2🇨🇳 China38314%
3🇫🇷 France36314%
4🇷🇺 Russia2088%
5🇰🇷 South Korea1506%
6🇨🇦 Canada873%
7🇺🇦 Ukraine813%
8🇩🇪 Germany652%
9🇯🇵 Japan612%
10🇪🇸 Spain542%
11🇸🇪 Sweden512%
12🇧🇪 Belgium482%
13🇬🇧 UK422%
14🇮🇳 India402%
15🇨🇿 Czech Republic291%
N/A🌐 Other2198%
N/A🌍 Total2,653100%

Another highlight is how China has rapidly grown its nuclear energy capabilities in the last decade. Between 2016 and 2021, for example, it increased its share of global nuclear energy output from less than 10% to more than 14%, overtaking France for second place.

On the opposite end, the UK’s share has slipped to 2% over the same time period.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has heavily relied on nuclear energy to power its grid. In March 2022, it lost access to its key Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station after Russian forces wrested control of the facility. With six 1,000 MW reactors, the plant is one of the largest in Europe. It is currently not producing any power, and has been the site of recent drone attacks.

 

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