Cartographic Capers of US Energy Consumption and Global Emissions

This visual voyage through some cartographic capers plots a course across US energy consumption, global emissions, and the second largest continent on earth. So grab your coat, and let’s start charting…

First up we are mapping US energy consumption, and specifically, what is wasted. An awesome burrito reader pondered a wee while ago ‘how much energy loss there is‘ relating to electricity generation in the US. So I got out my notepad and pen, and by my reckoning the number is………..about $100 billion a year.

This is how it shakes out:

–Total US energy consumption in 2013 = 97.4 Quadrillian btus (97,400,000,000,000,000,000 Btus).

–40% of total US energy consumption comes from electricity generation. About two-thirds of this is ‘rejected’ energy.

–‘Rejected’ energy is wasted energy: energy loss due to inefficiencies.

–This ‘rejected energy’ from electricity generation is the equivalent of about 205,000,000,000 gallons of gasoline, or 7,500,000,000 MWh of power, or 25 Tcf of natural gas.

–Using wholesale natural gas prices, this loss equates to around $100 billion a year.


(a bigger version of the image can be viewed here).


Next up, we map emissions. With the UN climate change summit going on last week, the below illustration from a guide called ‘the data behind the deadlock‘ highlights the changing trends in emissions since 1990, and how they are inextricably interlinked with economic growth. More importantly, however, it maps what we should see in the coming years given the targets of the key players involved:

US – Is targeting lower emissions through regulation of power generation (read: coal-plant retirements) in combination with improved motor vehicle standards. Its status as the world’s largest economy will remain intact by 2020, with the most minor of drops in the proportion of global emissions it accounts for. Targets beyond 2020 are likely to be a more stringent extrapolation of the power generation regulations and vehicle standards.

EUROPE – The EU has an unconditional target of  20% less emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, with a strong focus on renewable power generation. Beyond 2020 it could up the ante to target a 40% reduction by 2030, a target drafted already by the EU.

CHINA – Is targeting emissions intensity per unit of GDP to reduce emissions by addressing coal consumption, industry inefficiencies, and transport emissions in cities. A national emissions trading scheme is also in the works.

INDIA – Is hesitant to set an emissions target which may hinder economic growth and/or poverty alleviation. Is pushing for developed nations to help fund climate policy changes in developing nations. 



Finally, I leave you with this map below from The Economist. Not because it immediately relates to energy in any tangible way, but just because it is kinda nuts. It illustrates how Africa equates to the landmass of the US, China, Mexico, India, and basically Europe all combined. Astounding.



Laters ‘taters!