The Nuclear Energy Option


The energy demand in developing countries like China and India is growing at a phenomenal pace. At the same time most countries are looking to reduce carbon emissions and their dependence on fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, there's no magical Scotty in engineering with the ability to bend the laws of physics and deliver that power without consequences. There is no perfect option.

I recently saw a documentary on nuclear energy called Pandora's Promise. It made a pretty compelling case for the nuclear option, but I wasn't completely convinced. So, I decided to find some data and look at it myself... because that's what analysts do.

Personally, I'm not crazy about nuclear energy, but I do have a better understanding as to why countries are increasing their electric capacity with nuclear. And not just countries.  Gov Jerry Brown of California (which has an economy larger than many small countries) plans to have 50% of the state's electricity produced by renewables within 15 years.

"I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles," Brown said in his speech in Sacramento.
I hope the renewable technology exists to support those millions of vehicle's power needs, but I can't help but wonder if this goal may need to include nuclear power. Either way, it's commitments like this that will drive the research and development in both renewable and nuclear energy.

Big thanks and hugs to Andy Kriebel at VizWiz for his keen eye and suggestions on this viz. It is so incredibly helpful to get a kind editor look at your work and Andy's got a passion for Data Viz Done Right so his edits are right on the mark.


  1. Great stuff Kelly & Andy. I like the way it flows top to bottom and has the feel of an Infographic. Like a vertical story points. I've often wondered about constructing dashboards like that.

  2. Thanks so much Paul! This was a test to see how far I could take the scrolling without having the message get lost and the dashboard being to heavy to load fast. It's not appropriate for everything, but it's another option.

  3. Love how the font on the viz matches the font on the blog. The new fast tooltips also make it quite a nice viz to do some purely tool-tip based exploration. Beautiful interaction across the chart too.

  4. Hi Kelly,

    its a fantastic infographic.i was working on tableau trial version to create similar geographical infogrpahic but will little luck. do let me know where i can write to you for some tableau related advice

  5. Kelly this is a beautiful and nuanced design. I enjoyed exploring the details. Nice!

  6. Wonderful information and analysis. Indians and Chinese should know about these facts. Indian Government and supporters of nuclear power are propagating that nuclear power is cheaper than any power. But as per your analysis, Gas based power is cheaper and safe than nuclear power. As India is suffering from low reserves of Natural Gas, it can import RLNG and run power plants. RLNG based power is less cost and safe than the nuclear power, it seems.