U.S. Energy Use in a Single Chart

Chris Nelder highlighted the updated U.S, Energy Use Sankey Diagram from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

It's a busy chart, but there's a few things you should notice:

  • Understand how little of our energy use actually goes to energy services. Of the 97.4 quads we use, over 60% is rejected energy. We can never use 100% of that energy, thermodynamics tells us that. But we can still do a LOT better in the efficiency department.
  • Renewables have been growing nicely, but big things don't happen overnight, and they're still a small part of electricity generation. Meanwhile, the growth of natural gas continues to eat into nuclear and coal's lunch.
  • Down in transportation, note that you can combine natural gas, biomass, and electricity and still have just a tiny sliver of transportation energy use, the rest is ALL petroleum.
    • This is what we mean by the "energy transition." The reason Peak Oil people take the future production of oil so seriously is because we aren't just going to switch a light switch tomorrow and run transportation energy use fully on non-petro. This is a many-decade project and we're better served by getting started in a serious way sooner rather than later.