Where Does The Carbon Come From?

There’s a new database available online that shows the power plants of the world and how much carbon dioxide they’re putting into the atmosphere. About 25% of the dioxide is coming from the US, but the power company releasing the most CO2 overall is in China.

CARMA (CaRbon Monitoring for Action), is available at The site includes information on over 50,000 power plants and over 4,000 power companies. A map on the front page shows the most polluting power plants in the world. You can also do a search — by zip code, state, county, or other geographical specs.

I started with my usual 90210, and got the power supplier for that part of California — Southern California Edison Company. When I went to the page for that company I got a table of power emissions as of 2000, as of now, and predictions for the future. (There’s a glossary available if you don’t understand all the terms on the table.) I think I hit a bad table, though — I find it very hard to believe that this company went from generating 26,179 tons of CO2 in 2000 to 1,172,342 tons now (especially since the projected increase is so low.)

Below that there’s a map of the power plants. The map has icons that show the plant’s output as well as the intensity (amount of CO2 released per megawatt hour.) The list shows details for power plants as well. Mountainview Power, okay… a planned Mira Loma substation, okay … wait a minute… Monterey Hills Elementary School??

Yes, Monterey Hills Elementary School, generating 227 MWh of energy for you in 2000. With no CO2 output, so I guess this is a wind or solar output? Unfortunately while power plant pages provide details like congressional reps for that area and address (for US plants), the actual fuel source for that plant is not available. (The site has a reason for this and also explains how you can do some assumption of fuel source based on icon color.) The site has the capacity to accept comments for power plant pages, but I didn’t see any.

In an interesting use of similarity matching, you can view power plants around the world which have an output profile similar to the one you’re using — which is how I went from California to Africa.

In addition to the searching, you can also browse power companies, check out the API (very nice! Looking forward to the mashups), or read the blog.

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