Best Energy Data Visualizations

In a world with top 10 lists for everything, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous lists of great data visualization examples. Flowing Data publishes an annual digest of the best data visualizations projects of the past year. Visualizing Data regularly publishes an impressive roundup of high quality and timely data visualizations (e.g. February and August 2015).

Occasionally, these visualizations are energy-themed, but often I’ve needed to dig deeper to find good examples of energy data visualized. After scouring the web, I’ve come across a number of fantastic energy-specific data visualizations and have shared those below.

1. The United States of Energy

Authors: Saxum
A visually stunning presentation of energy production in the United States. In the visualization, the U.S. is divided into 13 unique regions – and the states that comprise them – along with the geographic linkages, infrastructure networks, energy resources and energy consumption trends that distinguish them. This visualization allows you to compare and contrast these key indicators and explore connections among the states.

2. Mapping how the United States generates its electricity

Authors: The Washington Post (John Muyskens, Dan Keating and Samuel Granados)
02-wapo-us generation
This presentation of United States electricity generation explores each major energy resource and interactively shows state-level shares of each source of electricity. A brief overview of the statistics and history of each resource provides context for understanding the regional preferences for each type of generation.

3. International energy technology perspectives

Authors: International Energy Agency
This interactive collection of data visualizations presents customizable displays of greenhouse gas emissions, energy flows (Sankey diagrams), and transportation energy trends projected out to 2050. These visualizations can be filtered by region and sector. For energy projections, you can explore the contributing technologies that lead to different emissions reduction scenarios.

4. City of Philadelphia building energy benchmarking

Authors: Azavea Inc. for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, The City of Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, more than 60% of energy consumed comes from building energy use, and the city has set a goal to reduce that energy consumption 20 percent by 2015. This visualization shows building-level energy performance data by building type for the City of Philadelphia for 2013 and 2014. There is also a collection of interactive charts that explore building efficiency by year, type, size, fuel types, water use and steam use.

5. EIA Energy visualization widget

Authors: United States Energy Information Administration (EIA)
The EIA has been a powerhouse of energy data collection and curation, and has created an interactive widget that shows electricity generation for the United States. Additionally, global oil consumption and each state or country’s individual consumption can be explored. This widget may be inserted into any webpage via EIA’s API. Other features of this widget provide information on coal, natural gas, petroleum, and future projections of energy consumption.

6. Lot level building energy consumption for New York City

Authors: Sustainable Engineering Lab, Earth Institute, Columbia University
This interactive map of New York City shows energy use per square meter of land throughout the city. By clicking on any particular block, you can see estimates of the end use of energy consumption for each of these regions. There has been commentary around this map as to whether the presentation of energy by land area is the best way to view it or whether it merely mirrors the relative height of each section of the city. However, these data are genuinely interesting to explore and demonstrates city neighborhoods with significant energy efficiency improvement potential.

7. Central and South American energy database

Authors: Inter-American Development Bank
This database focuses on Central and South America as well as Caribbean nation energy data. The visualizations are presented in a number of different formats that show energy flows, energy production, consumption by sector, comparisons over time, as well as analyses of the history of energy policies and market analyses.

8. European energy visualizations

Authors: and Eurostat
This elegant and highly responsive visualization dives into European energy consumption compared by country and explores greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy shares and energy generation targets. The ability to drill down into country specific end-use makes this visualization particularly informative, as does its unique presentation of the energy dependency of each European nation.

9. China’s economic slowdown impact on the world

Authors: The Guardian (Carlo Zapponi, Seán Clarke, Helena Bengtsson, Troy Griggs and Phillip Inman)
The Guardian’s visual and interactive storytelling abilities are impressively presented and this visualization, although not purely energy-focused, tells the story of the potential impact of China’s economic slowdown on other countries around the world and divides those impacts up by sector of the economy.

10. As the appetite for electricity soars, the world keeps turning to coal

Authors: The Washington Post (Todd Lindeman, Ted Mellnik and Will Englund)
Even with growth in renewables and natural gas, coal still dominates as the dominant fuel at 40% or world energy consumption in 2012, while accounting for 72% of global emissions. This article provides a particularly clear and unique visualization of carbon dioxide emissions by country and region of the world.

11. Visualization of Canada’s energy systems

Authors: Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR)
This overview of Canada’s energy use shows end use green house gas emissions by province, end uses by sector and province, and a Sankey diagram of energy flows.