Imagine if the U.S. didn’t depend on fossil fuels at all. If the entire country ran 100 percent on renewable energy. That’s the bold proposition made by Mark Jacobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford, and it’s a possibility that could be achieved in the not so distant future. At Stanford, Mark Jacobson has laid out a comprehensive roadmap showing how each state could wean itself from nuclear power and other sources of non-renewable energy like coal, petroleum, and natural gas.
Together with the National Geographic, we set out to create an immersive data story that would allow users to experience Jacobson’s roadmap for transforming the U.S. energy sector to become entirely independent of nuclear and other non-renewable sources of energy by 2050. For this project, our data storytelling was broken down into three different chapters:
State-by-state projected energy mix, using quadrification diagram that showed readers which renewable energy technology would weigh more in selected state.
A choropleth map inviting readers to compare their state’s use of particular technology against others compared with the rest of the nation. The selected state energy mix remained as reference, and a single bar chart with each state plotted on the side would help readers better understand where their state was in terms of the impact on a selected technology. This exact same data was plotted using parallel coordinates chart, where readers could understand their state’s signature energy mix and quickly identify outliers in doctor Jacobson’s study.
Finally, a new visualization was developed with deeper insight on data, such as how much land area would be required, what would be the cost and cost savings in the U.S., as well as cost and cost savings per person per year, and the percentage reduction in energy demand if the U.S. would stop burning fossil fuels and switch to renewable electricity.