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Where 98% of Energy Vanishes Before it Reaches Your Light Bulb?

Not sure how you are going to react to this but when I saw the below image and realized what’s going on I was shocked.  And not by electricity but by the fact how much of it is wasted on the way to our homes.

Take a look yourself at the illustration below produced by the National Academy of Sciences.  It shows how out of every 100 units of electricity produced by a coal energy plant only 2 is used to light a table lamp that is illuminating your keyboard and that cup of tea.  The rest of the 98% is lost at the power plant, transportation, and heat.

PG&E claims the main source of energy for Bay Area homes is nuclear and natural gas but how much are these plants more efficient than coal?  Chime in if you know in the comments.  Let’s just really hope the efficiency is exponentially higher.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • george February 22, 2010, 6:39 am

    wow about time you english majors woke up and realized there is a thing as the laws of thermodynamics. If you would occasionally crack a science book you would realize these issues long ago.

    Why dont you ask how thermally efficient an Oil refinery is? would you believe its in the 80% range. Yes nearly 80% of the total energy committed to a refinery is either converted to product or used to econimize streams.

    If you you nimbys wouldnt hate the sight of a power plant so much we califorians wouldnt have to build them in beowawe nevada and black mesa utah. And if you would allow neighborhood cogen units, you could all heat and cool your homes with the waste heat and the thermal eifficiency would go over 50%.

  • Tadas February 22, 2010, 10:06 pm

    Wow, our very first angry scientist comment… awesome! Well your comment is actually very welcome George because as I wrote in the past post, it’s easy to buy into the media hype and not see the bigger picture. By the way, what are the “neighborhood cogen units” anyway? I did look up what a “nimby” means so all clear on that. I do have to apologize for my English as its my third language and I have to say I’m still learning it 🙂

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