Energy data visualization requires additional approaches to continue to be relevant in a world with greater low-carbon generation

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The hypothesis described in this article proposes that energy visualization diagrams commonly used need additional changes to continue to be relevant in a world with greater low-carbon generation. The diagrams that display national energy data are influenced by the properties of the type of energy being displayed, which in most cases has historically meant fossil fuels, nuclear fuels, or hydro. As many energy systems throughout the world increase their use of electricity from wind- or solar-based renewables, a more granular display of energy data in the time domain is required. This article also introduces the shared axes energy diagram that provides a simple and powerful way to compare the scale and seasonality of the demands and supplies of an energy system. This aims to complement, rather than replace existing diagrams, and has an additional benefit of promoting a whole systems approach to energy systems, as differing energy vectors, such as natural gas, transport fuels, and electricity, can all be displayed together. This, in particular, is useful to both policy makers and to industry, to build a visual foundation for a whole systems narrative, which provides a basis for discussion of the synergies and opportunities across and between different energy vectors and demands. The diagram's ability to wrap a sense of scale around a whole energy system in a simple way is thought to explain its growing popularity.


Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Energy Research
Issue numberAUG
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2016


  • Energy data visualization, Energy demand comparisons, Energy system visualization, Seasonal energy demands, Whole systems visualization