Energy Everyday and around the World

Photo collage of how we interact with energy systems in our every day lives, and across the world. These photos are taken by myself in various places and parts of the world. As you browse through the photos, reflect on your relationship with energy and the infrastructure that is critical to supporting it. I hope you enjoy!

Georgia (USA) 2024. Utility crews were quick at work to clear up tree debris and restore power from downed power lines. The outage from the high winds lasted a little over an hour for my building, but could have been much longer if the damage had been more extensive, and if I didn't live in the populous Midtown Atlanta area. Restoring power remains a very manual process, and much care must be taken to ensure worker safety.

Georgia (USA) 2024. Around 5pm on April 11th I got a message that the power was out in my apartment. The number of customers without power quickly went from ~200 to ~6200, as the wind knocked out power distribution lines. The map above shows the approximate region where power outages were experienced. 

Georgia (USA) 2024. While there wasn't a thunderstorm in Tech Square in Midtown Atlanta, the high winds were enough to break tree branches, topple vegetation, and eventually result in the outages we experienced. The photo to the top shows one such culprit: trees debris in my neighbourhood which likely caused some of the outages. 

Arizona (USA) 2023. Driving along AZ-98, you may not realize these massive transmission towers are critical to the electricity supply for many states in the Southwestern US and many tribes on the Navajo Nation. Located nearby is the Navajo Generating Station (coal-fired plant commissioned in 1974 and decommissioned recently in 2019) and the Glen Canyon Dam (producing hydroelectric power since 1964). 

Some numbers from the hydro plant: Glen Canyon Powerplant produces around five billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power annually which is distributed by the Western Area Power Administration to Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Nebraska. -- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Arizona (USA) 2023. When you think about "Arizona desert" you may think of the Saguaro cactus (a native cactus to the Sonoran Desert, pictured here). But you probably don't think of power lines. Yet, as you drive through Arizona, you will see the juxtaposition of native ecosystem and wildlife alongside the energy infrastructure powering all of 21st century life. 

Arizona (USA) 2023. Distribution lines along the Arizona State Route 98, between Page and Upper Antelope Canyon. These likely connect to the transmission lines on the left, to supply electricity to individual households and buildings. These distribution lines are connected between poles made of wood. As you compare the two photos, think about how weather, water/wind, and wildlife may impact these levels of the power system (transmission vs. distribution) in different ways. 

Louisiana (USA) 2023. The vibrant city of New Orleans boasts rich history, delicious food, and incredibly imaginative art. I'm not sure crocodiles, alligators, and brass instrument playing birds are quite what we have in mind when we talk about "alternative transportation". But this imaginative mural certainly depicts a fun idea. More realistically, sustainable transportation includes improving public transit, the walkability and bike-ability of cities, supporting the adoption and integration of electric vehicles, and developing low-carbon alternative fuels. 

Belize 2022. Along the coast and cayes of Belize are beautiful mangroves that support a rich and vibrant ecosystem of plants and animals. These plants can uniquely obtain fresh water from salty water, and thrive in saline or brackish water environments. The local communities who have lived among mangroves for generations rely on these environments for food and livelihoods, including fishing and more recently, ecotourism. Many efforts to understand and protect these important ecosystems and water bodies are underway. Various measurement and communication devices make use of on-board power from solar panels, such as the one pictured here. This is of course, no surprise. Among other applications, solar cells have powered satellites since 1958 (see the Vanguard 1 ) and buoys for oceanography.

Morocco 2020. Marrakech is a bustling city in Morocco with rich history, exquisite spices, and lots of rooftop technology. This photo was taken in a typical neighbourhood in the city -- there's practically a satellite dish on each rooftop, and solar water heaters on many as well (the rectangular blue things with the cylinder on top). Again, energy is central to our everyday lives: providing not just electricity, but heating and access to communication.

Morocco 2020. Electricity infrastructure connects remote communities, even along High Atlas (a mountain range in central Morocco).

Morocco 2020. Great weather conditions allow for high solar potential. Many remote communities have installed rooftop solar devices (see the blue rectangle on the house on the left) to supply electricity and hot water

Morocco 2020. Can you see those two shining beacons in the sky? They look like two false suns illuminating the daytime like stars. These are actually reflections from a concentrated solar power station. This photo was taken somewhere between Aït Benhaddou and the Sahara desert. It's likely the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, the world's largest solar power plant, at 510 MW (with additional photovoltaic systems).