ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Plugged In

Plugged In


More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives
Plugged In HomeAboutContact

xkcd: the cost of electricity

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



Several readers sent word about this massive xkcd chart about money. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. It is both massive and fascinating and is a handy way to compare the scale and breadth of everything from iPad’s to the national deficit.

In the “billions” section is a breakdown of how much it would cost to power the United States for a year, by fuel type:

According to the chart, wind, hydro, biomass, advanced combined cycle natural gas, conventional coal, and geothermal are all in the same ballpark in terms of cost. Of course, overall resource supply isn’t taken into account (is there even enough hydro capacity in the United States?), and neither is geographic availability (geothermal isn’t available everywhere, for example). But I do think this chart does do a good job of laying out direct costs and some of the external costs for various fuel types.

I would love to see energy efficiency and conservation thrown in for good measure. Maybe next time!

Overall a great chart that obviously took a long time to compile and put together. The data sources are available here.

Have an interesting link or story? Let me know.

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? david.m.wogan@gmail.com Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Blow-Out Sale

Enter code:
HOLIDAY 2014
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >

X

Email this Article

X