Chart of the Day: Minnesota Energy Input and Output Flows, 2014

Here’s a fun chart to stare at for long hours. It’s the LIvermore labs energy chart! This is the most recent version available at the state level (though there is one made at the national scale using 2017 info). It might look familiar, as Adam Miller put up a similar chart a year and a half ago for US data.

Anyhoo, this chart shows the input and output for all the energy used in the state of Minnesota. It’s full of interesting information.

Take a look (the units are in BTU, a measure of heat production):

Minneosta Energy Chart


Some highlights…

As Adam pointed out last time, “transportation is a particularly inefficient consumer of energy.” In this case, highlighted with the arrow, you can see that our petroleum-fueled transportation system is still responsible for a lot of wasted energy.

Also worth noting where energy comes from (e.g. coal, natural gas, wind) and where it goes. A lot of natural gas goes into heating homes, for example, filed here 8under the “residential” category.

Also, look how small solar is in this chart. How much has it grown since 2014? Some data shows it having grown twenty-fold since then. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.


13 Responses to Chart of the Day: Minnesota Energy Input and Output Flows, 2014

  1. Josh October 23, 2018 at 10:56 am #

    Shocked that biomass is higher than solar.

    Great graphic!

    • Anon October 23, 2018 at 11:50 am #

      Biomass includes ethanol.

      We want to subsidize corn so we create a bigger market for corn by requiring everyone to burn it in their cars.

      But creating ethanol probably requires more energy to create then it yields, so if the DOE did not have to be politically sensitive, they would have drawn a line from the other energy inputs into ‘Biomass’ that is even thicker than the lines that come out of Biomass.

      Put another way: you could not run an ethanol plant on the ethanol it creates.

      Bad economic and environmental policy have birthed the ethanol regime; an idea so politically powerful that it continues despite obvious thermodynamical deficiencies.

      Not all biomass is ethanol; some other crops can do considerably better.

      1. Make more product than anyone wants.
      2. Purchase laws that require everyone to buy your product and burn it.
      3. Use profits to protect step 2.

      • Monte Castleman October 23, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

        I think it’s better to view ethanol as convenient energy storage mechanism rather than a way of generating energy. Yes, there’s some loss in the process, but it’s extremely easy to use in current cars, like all liquid fuels it has a huge energy density and you’re not dragging around dead weight after it gets used up and we don’t import it from the middle east. Thus it may be a better way to fuel vehicles, convert electricity to ethanol, taking a loss in the process in exchange for the convenience, rather than using electricity to power vehicles directly.

        • Anon October 23, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

          Ethanol is convenient and energy dense, however, gasoline is used (indirectly) to manufacture it and gasoline is more energy dense, and more convenient because engines that burn ethanol require special parts, (which are now built into all modern cars). If Ethanol has value as a storage medium, then let’s stop subsidizing and mandating its use. Let market forces sort it out.

      • Cobo R October 23, 2018 at 3:43 pm #

        People forget that corn is not completely used up when making ethanol because there is a byproduct called “Distiller grains”.

        Only the starch in corn is used up by the ethanol process (which cattle can’t digest too well anyway). The cellulose and rest of it becomes animal feed.

        I call it a win, since we need to feed the livestock anyway.

        • Anon October 23, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

          If corn-based ethanol is a win, then subsidies and mandates aren’t required. Let’s remove them.

  2. Eric October 23, 2018 at 11:06 am #

    Super cool.

    Can some smarty-pants person help me understand what rejected/wasted energy? I think I understand this insofar as electricity is concerned. I believe we make a certain amount of electricity that flows through the grid at a relatively steady stream and we actually only use a portion of that to feed our electric needs. The unused portion would be waste. Perhaps that’s incorrect? What is the rejected/wasted petroleum energy?

  3. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller October 23, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

    79% of the energy that does into transportation come out as rejected energy. That’s amazing.

  4. commissar October 24, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

    moar nuclear. only realistic way to replace the coal used in electric generation.

    • Brian October 25, 2018 at 10:36 am #

      The new nuclear reactors are supposed to be much safer and supposedly can use spent nuclear fuel as fuel. There is still a fear of nuclear by a lot of the public. Utilities are reluctant to propose nuclear due to the years of construction, high cost, and general opposition to nuclear. Solar and wind are both touted as being less per KWh than nuclear these days.

      I personally think new nuclear is the way to go for base load, but most nuclear plants are not being replaced with new nuclear as they are retired.

  5. Darryn October 28, 2018 at 8:46 am #

    Where is the geothermal production in Minnesota?

    • Stuart October 29, 2018 at 12:44 pm #

      I’m not 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure this refers to geothermal heating/cooling systems. I have looked into it for my own home (expensive as a retrofit), but I know that it is used for some higher end new construction, and on larger commercial projects it can go a long way to reducing operating costs and improving the “green” rating for LEED and others.

      It is NOT geothermal electricity production.

Note on Comments welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on!