Sankey chart of US Energy Flow & End Usage

Really cool view of energy production, usage and waste. 8 great takeaways, but my favorite is:

4. You don’t need a 1:1 ratio of electric to replace petroleum. That ratio is more like 1:5

The whole US transportation industry uses only 5.93 quads of energy to propel vehicles around. While it takes 28.3 quads of mostly petroleum to do so today, replacing internal combustion or jet engines with their much more efficient electric alternatives means you’d only need about 6 quads of electricity to produce the same movement. That can currently be made by wind, solar, or hydro (if they weren’t doing other things). To put it another way: to get rid of all of the petroleum energy used to run transportation in the US, you wouldn’t even have to double the amount of wind, solar and hydro.

FYI - Rejected energy is really energy losses, energy in the source that is lost and not used for the end service.


Really good article and I love the use of the Sankey! Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks. I just wish the chart would outline the origins of the rejected energy coming out of Electricity Generation. It does say that 2/3 of the input energy from coal pops out as rejected so we can likely estimate for natural gas as well. 10.2 x 1/3 = 3.4 quads of electricity coming from coal. Subtract that and Solar, Wind and Geothermal from the 12.7 quads of actual electricity produced and about 5.3 quads of actual electricity come from Nuclear, Hydro and Nat Gas, from 8.46, 2.48 and 11.7 in.

Oh the beauty! Great sankeyfication and great takeaway.

Practically speaking, I suppose there is considerable fuzziness in which quads for Transportation and/or Residential are for home-driver EV use (if many). The 0.03 solar quads channeled to Transportation stand out as being “tiny”. Then again …

A full Tesla 3 recharge = 75 kWh = 310 miles range

A quad = 293,071,083,333 kWh (OK, I admit I just wanted the chance to enumerate that number!)

That’s (0.03 x 293,071,083,333 / 75) x 310 = 36,340,814,333 miles

At an average of 13,474 miles/year/car that’s 2,697,106 cars.

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Old news, but I just stumbled upon the Otherlab “Super Sankey”. Fun. Gonna need a bigger monitor!


This falls into the category of incredibly cool, but too detailed to make sense of… :smirk: