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Our Energy System

The National Academy of Sciences

This interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, oil) to supply energy to four end-use sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation). It also focuses on lost or degraded energy.

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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • This interactive diagram is based on the energy flow diagram produced by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2009. The data are from the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE/EIA-0384(2008), June 2009).
  • This is a Sankey diagram. Schmidt, M., 2008, Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 82-94. See also http://www.sankey-diagrams.com for more information.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Excellent tool to show the sources of energy consumed in the U.S. and what happens along the way between energy production and consumption.
  • The questions that must be emphasized are: 1) what is "unused" energy? 2) why does it account for nearly 60 percent of our overall energy use? and 3) why is energy conservation and efficiency so crucial?

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Scroll over or click on text within graphic to show more information/data.
  • The interface is complex and may lead to some users becoming lost without guidance.
  • Lots of information at many levels.

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