Guest post by Ric Werme
The folks at Lawrence Livermore Natl. Labs produce a fascinating look at all the energy production in the US, from energy in (as quadrillion BTUs, or quads for short) to energy out:
This was featured in a post at Grist.org which has been picked up by several other sites. Even though the graph refers to “rejected energy,” Grist and other posters referred to it as “wasted energy.” I was pleased to see that commentors at Grist quickly pointed out that the inconvenient Laws of Thermodynamics say you can’t get 100% efficiency from thermal systems. (Well, you can, but only if the heat sink is at absolute zero, and we don’t have one.)
I pointed that out at the newspaper blog, and was going to include the link to the discussion here for a previous year’s graphic, but I can’t find it here or at chiefio, or other place I would have been. [NOTE – quite possibly it was my post “Constructal GDP“. – willis]
I think we need a good discussion here, this seems tailor made for an eclectic group like ours.
A LLNL starting point for more information is https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/index.html which includes links to detailed descriptions and similar information for 2008.
Comparisons between the two years are interesting. I hadn’t realized that natural gas usage fell. Most of that was due to declining industrial use, it did go up at power plants. Another referrer to these graphics noted that “Wind power increased dramatically in 2009 to 0.70 quads of primary energy compared to 0.51 in 2008.” They didn’t note that several more dramatic increases are necessary for wind power to be a significant source of electricity.