Visualising the energy-transition in 3D

Everybody knows about our global energy-transition, but are we doing well? Fossil fuels will come to an end, starting with coal. Renewables (e.g. solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy and biomass) are thought to be the solution, but at the same time biomass is disputed as it competes with food production and can destroy woods. Then we have nuclear energy. No carbon dioxide, but disputed as well for different reasons. The question is: which direction are we going, when looking at the facts? AnRep3D is able to visualise these complex numbers. Sometimes I wonder if we should offer a package called EnRep3D (Energy Representation in 3D), with a different manual. We’ll see!

Photo by SatyaPrem on Pixabay

During the last weeks I applied AnRep3D to different, non-financial areas. The advantage of finance is that all axes represent a value in money. Energy can do the same, as it has its own units. In finance we have US-dollars, Euros, Yuan, Yen and many other currencies representing the same value. In energy it’s more or less the same: TWh, GJ, MMBtu and ktoe are different measures to express an amount of energy. When we are thinking about the mix of different types of energy sources, it doesn’t matter which measure we will take as long as it’s the same for all values.

Photo by JACLOU-DL on Pixabay

The International Energy Agency provides a lot of data and I am happy to use them. The units are kilotonne of oil equivalents (ktoe – 1 ktoe is about 42 TeraJoule or nearly 12 GWh). I selected five large countries or actually four as Japan is small compared to the People’s Republic of China, India, the EU and the USA, but still interesting (as I will explain below).

Photo by luctheo on Pixabay

This time I won’t tell you about the process of collecting data, but just present the 3D-graph. Be aware that the population of the five countries is very different, partially explaining different amounts of energy. China and India have over 1 bln. inhabitants, Japan, USA and EU are over one, three and five hundred thousand people. Yet it’s not about the size of the buildings, but their shape (the ratios of their dimensions, that is). Regardless the size, we can compare the height (renewables) to the width (nuclear) and the depth (fossil). By the way: energy carriers, like electricity, steam and hydrogen are not shown as those are not primary sources. Trade is also ignored. Let’s have a look at the 3D-graph! Like always the screenshots can be clicked to open the real 3D-graph in your browser (JavaScript and WebGL enabled).

Double-click the screenshot to see the live 3D-graph in your browser. For manipulation: Clicking the right mouse-button, moving the mouse up and down will zoom the graph in and out. Clicking left and moving the mouse will tilt the graph in different directions (or move the observer’s viewpoint around a fixed graph – it’s relative of course). Double clicking in the graph translates it and moves the centre at the same time. As a result the way the graph tilts will change. Just try it. If you don’t know how to get the normal position back, just refresh the graph.

From this point of view we can see that the EU had more nuclear power than the US, but less renewables. Even if we ignore the green part, representing biofuels and waste, the energy-total of other renewables (represented by the yellow part (solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy) is still higher in the US. Traveling to the rear of the 3D-graph, we can see that in 2015 this is still the same.

Then Japan! It is a dwarf between the other powers, but nevertheless interesting. If we look from above at the last three buildings (2005, 2010 and 2015), the third one is suddenly very narrow (see top of the image to the left). Between 2010 and 2015 nearly all nuclear power disappeared. This can be explained by the Fukushima-disaster in 2011.

Finally we can observe China and India from aside. Their buildings are really tall, meaning a lot of renewables are in their energy-mix (have a look at the legend in front). Yet India is more or less green, meaning biofuels  and waste are the main types of renewables, wheras China shows an increasing part of yellow. This yellow part represents the other renewables, like solar and hydropower.

If we look at the depth of their buildings, we see every next building is more elongated, meaning the supply of fossil-based energy increased. From 2000 to 2015 it doubled for India and nearly tripled for China. Their buildings remain narrow, indicating that nuclear energy is still not very important, although a lot of nuclear power stations are under construction in these countries.

For more information about the generator of 3D-graphs, please download  the free 3D-graph generator package (zip). It  can be unpacked in a folder and the .jar file (the 3D-graph generator) can be started immediately. For a better understanding of the generator we have a couple of short movies at our youtube-channel . Our email-address is and you can follow us on Twitter: @AnRep3D

About AnRep3D

AnRep3D is the new company, founded after the handover of Scientassist (together with VRBI) to one of my sons. From now I will focus on three-dimensional graphs for the financial markets, showing the main figures from annual reports in comparison. As per 2021 a second product is available: EnRep3D. It is meant to visualise energy. Although the engine is the same, the texts, manual, website and examples (including blogposts) are focused at energy.
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