Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category:

What kinds of vehicles do Americans drive?

Posted In: Energy
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Americans are known for loving cars and driving quite a bit. Drivers in the United States own more cars and drive more than those in any other country. So what kinds of vehicles do Americans drive? This visualization looks at the types of vehicles (by body type and country of origin) across the 50 States and Washington DC.

You can view two different attributes about the types of vehicles in use in the United States:

  • Body type of passenger vehicles
  • Manufacturer/Brand region of origin

The different categories of passenger vehicles include:

  • Cars – includes sedans, hatchbacks, wagons and sports cars
  • Pickup trucks
  • SUVs
  • Vans – includes Minivans and full-size vans

Classification of the vehicles manufacturer (US, Asia or Europe) is based on the company’s headquarters and not the place of vehicle manufacturing. So a Toyota here is an Asian vehicle even if it was assembled in Mississippi.

It is pretty interesting to see the regional differences in vehicle types (cars vs trucks and SUVs) and vehicle brand (domestic vs foreign). Michigan, especially, stands out with their very high domestic ownership. It makes sense as Detroit is the home of the big three US auto manufacturers (Ford, GM and Chrysler). And I hear there’s a very strong culture of owning American cars there (and employee, friends and family discounts as well).

The data is derived from a survey by the US Department of Transportation called the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) released in 2017. The following is a quote from the NHTS webpage:

The National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) is the source of the Nation’s information about travel by U.S. residents in all 50 States and Washington, DC. This inventory of travel behavior includes trips made by all modes of travel (i.e., private vehicle, public transportation, pedestrian, and cycling) and for all purposes (e.g., travel to work, school, recreation, and personal/family trips). It provides information to assist transportation planners and policymakers who need comprehensive data on travel and transportation patterns in the United States.

Data and Tools:
Data, as stated before, comes from the US Department of Transportation’s National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). That data was processed to identify vehicle characteristics by state and plotted using javascript and the open-source leaflet map library.

car types by state

Electric Vehicle Sales By State

Posted In: Energy | Technology
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Where are electric vehicles being sold in the United States?



Electric vehicles are any vehicle that can be plugged in to recharge a battery that provides power to move the vehicle. Two broad classes are battery electric vehicles (BEVs) which only have batteries as their power source and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) which have an alternative or parallel power source, typically a gasoline engine. PHEVs are built so that when the battery is depleted, the car can still run on gasoline and operate like a hybrid vehicle similar to a regular Toyota Prius (which is not plugged in at all).

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been sold in the US since 2011 (a few commercial models were sold previous to that but not in any significant numbers) and some conversions were also available. Since then, the number of EVs sold has increased pretty significantly. I wanted to look at the distribution of where those vehicles were located. What is interesting is that California accounts for around 50% of the electric vehicles sold in the United States. Other states have lower rates of EV adoption (in some cases much, much lower). There are many reasons for this, including beneficial policies, public awareness, a large number of potential early adopters and a mild climate. Even so, the EV heatmap of California done early shows that sales are mostly limited to the Bay Area, and LA areas.

The map shows data for total electric vehicle sales by state for years 2016, 2017 or 2018 and also the number of EV sales per 1000 licensed drivers (this is all people in the state with a drivers license, not drivers of EVs). If you hover over a state, you can see both data points for that state.

It will be interesting to see how the next generation of electric vehicles continues to improve, lower in price and become more popular with drivers outside of early adopters.

Data and Tools:
Data on electric vehicle sales is from the Auto Alliance website. Licensed driver data was downloaded from the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics website. The map was made using the leaflet open source mapping library. Data was compiled and calculated using javascript.

Electric vehicle sales by state

Heatmap of Electric Vehicle (EV) Sales in California (Animation)

Posted In: Energy | Transportation
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Bitcoin Energy Consumption – Does It Consume More Electricity Than Your State?

Posted In: Energy | Money
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This visualization looks at the staggeringly high energy use of Bitcoin and puts it into context: comparing it to electricity usage of US states. Unfortunately for Bitcoin, high energy usage is an intended feature of the system, rather than an unintended consequence. This is because mining is an increasingly energy intensive process, based upon increasingly computationally intensive calculations that are performed on high powered computers and graphical processing units.

Currently, 28 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia all have lower electricity consumption than estimated annual bitcoin electricity consumption (~73 TWh per year). These states are highlighted in variations of yellow. This is approximately equal to the average annual electricity usage across all US States. States with higher electricity consumption than bitcoin are highlighted in shades of red.

When dividing the total energy use (73 TWh) by the current number of transactions (93 million), we get an average energy consumption of 783 kWh per transaction. Click on the “Energy per Transaction” button to see this visualization. What’s crazy is that a transaction is simply a transfer of bitcoin between “wallets”, recording the transaction, and a validation of the process. There’s no good reason why verifying digital transactions should take this much energy, except that it was built into the fundamental process of validating and mining bitcoin. 783 kWh is larger than the monthly per capita electricity consumption in 10 US states. It could also drive you and your family over 2000 miles in an electric car (e.g. Tesla Model S).

I’m not expert enough in this area to know how much more energy consumption will rise into the future, but if crypto advocates’ predictions come true and bitcoin is used extensively, millions of transactions will occur per hour instead of per year and the price of bitcoin may rise much higher than it currently is. If the price rises, then miners will be willing to expend more energy to “mine” the more valuable bitcoin. Needless to say, this sounds like a very bad idea from an energy consumption and sustainability standpoint.

Data and Tools:
State energy data comes from the US Department of Energy. Estimates of Bitcoin energy use come from Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. The choropleth map is visualized using javascript and the Leaflet.js library with Open Street Map tiles.

bitcoin energy

Solar (Sun) Intensity By Location and Time

Posted In: Energy | Science
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This visualization shows the amount of solar intensity (also called solar insolation and measured in watts per square meter) all across the globe as a function of time of day and day of year. This is an idealized calculation as it does not take into account reductions in solar intensity due to cloud cover or other things that might block the sun from reaching the earth (e.g dust and pollution).

As would be expected, the highest amount of solar intensity occurs on the globe right where the sun is overhead and as the angle of the sun lowers, the solar intensity declines. This is why the area around the equator and up through the tropics is so sunny, the sun is overhead here the most. If you click on the map you should see a popup of the intensity of sunlight at that location.

As the earth rotates over the course of a day, the angle of the sun changes and eventually the angle is so low, the sun is blocked by the horizon (this is sunset).

Instructions
  • The default is to show the sunlight intensity for the current date and time but you can change it by moving the sliders for hour or day.
  • You can also toggle between the orientation of the surface that you measure the sunlight on. The default shows the intensity of sunlight on a horizontal surface. The other option shows the intensity on a surface that is oriented to face the sun (i.e. perpendicular)

Again, the intensity will depend on the angle it makes with the sun and so it depends on your location on earth (i.e. latitude). Latitudes around the equator will receive more sunlight because their angle is closer to perpendicular.

Shifting through the days of the year, you can start to see the cause of the seasons as the amount of sunlight changes and more or less sunlight goes to each of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Calculations and Tools:
The calculations for solar intensity are based on equations from “Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems” by Gilbert Masters Chapter 7. Calculations were made using javascript and visualized using the Leaflet.js library with Open Street Map tiles.

This was a fun project for me to learn online mapping tools and programming.

Tesla Model 3 Sales Tracker

Posted In: Energy | Technology | Transportation
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Tesla has been building innovative and industry-leading battery-powered cars for about a decade, starting with the Roadster, and then the Model S and Model X. The company unveiled the Model 3 (their first mass-market electric car with 220 miles of range, priced at “$35,000″), in early 2017 and hundreds of thousands of people put down a $1000 deposit within a few days. Overall, the number of these pre-orders total about half a million! It was impressive for a car most people have not driven or even seen.

The company also has had optimistic timeframes for producing and shipping these vehicle: they had originally estimated production rates of 5000 cars/week by the end of 2017 and 10,000 cars/week(!) in 2018. That’s Civic or Camry levels. These have since been delayed due to reports of “production hell” in scaling up mass production for the vehicles. Given the unprecedented demand and production challenges as Tesla transitions from niche automaker to mass-market production, I thought it would be worthwhile to track the sales of Model 3s as they are built and shipped to customers with the Model 3 Sales Tracker. Average sales price has been far above the $35,000 price initially announced. Production has reportedly passed 5000 cars/week intermittently, if not continuously, in the summer of 2018.

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