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Energy Flow Charts Explained - Halil Öztürk



Every day we use energy to be able to satisfy our “life” necessities like an economy that needs power from energy to produce and consume. Furnishing the energy demand of our bodies with the right amount of energy, which is measured in general by calories, affects our health directly, and correspondingly, our daily lives. Likewise, if we accept the following statement: energy is indispensable to an economy, then analyzing the energy input-output of the economy becomes indispensable to keep it healthy, one of which is using visual energy charts. To make life easy, there are different types of charts chosen based upon however an analyzer wants to investigate; even though some of them may use the same data, their representations are different. To exemplify, some use matrices on which intersection of column and row values give specific values; others simply give line charts, or pie charts, and so forth. It is quite normal that the features of these charts may change from provider to provider preparing for a specific goal, generally. Governments due to the large scales of the market, firms in the market to maximize their own values, some organizations to analyze the market for specific reasons such as seeing CO2 emission rates, the existing status of natural resources, modeling energy in an economy, etc. can be given as examples to the institutions providing these charts.


Of the importance of these charts, we have already drawn an analogy between human body health and health of an economy based upon energy supply and demand and already accepted the indispensableness of energy to an economy; therefore, energy charts automatically become indispensable as well. To see better, instead of numerical tables, visual charts may help examine the energy market more easily and may help quickly make an approximation for certain situations.


One of the provider institutions, whose charts are the main topic of this paper, is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) which prepares energy flow charts called Sankey Diagram at times. To talk a bit about LLNL to create a background, LLNL was established in 1952 at the height of the Cold War to meet urgent national security needs by advancing nuclear weapons science and technology. In its facilities, LLNL has worked on laser systems, dark matter, genomics, climate change, and so on with an about $2.206 billion portfolio with 2019 numbers. To talk about LLNL energy flow charts, the charts are got ready not only for the United States but sometimes also for many other countries. The data is based on IEA's Extended World Energy Balance editions, and as preparing the charts, the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics are taken into accounts. The First Law states energy is always conserved, and The Second Law states transferring and transforming energy degrade its quality. The charts basically show in an economy, what the sources of energy production are, how the consumers are using energy, and how much energy is wasted.


LLNL Energy Flow Charts, by its easiness, to understand scheme make a difference compared to many other energy flow charts and by its creator's brand name, credibility. Now, time to see how to read these charts; we are going to continue through bullets:

1. Left Hand-side: the resources the energy comes from, such as Coal, Biomass, Solar, etc.

2. Right Hand-side: the amount of energy in the parts of the energy system: residential, industrial, transportations, and commercial.

3. Most Right Hand-side: rejected energy which turns back to the environment and has no economic value (remember the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamic); service energy which is the commodity actually demanded, consumed.


So as to show how to read them well, we can look at an example:

Source: Flow Charts

Let us get some points from the chart for Turkey in 2017:

· Turkey generated most of its electricity from natural gas and coal.

· Although Turkey imported most of her petroleum, natural gas, and coal, she also exported some of the amounts of them.

· Industrial and transportation usages were the greatest parts energy went to.

· The rejected energy to energy services ratio was , and the ratio for transportation was .

We can multiply the points, or instead, we can use the chart based on why we use it.

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