Here is a handy chart of the various forms of energy and the processes by which they can be converted from one form to the other.

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Source: recreated from Vaclav Smil’s Energy (2006)

It should be read as, for instance, “chemical energy is transformed to thermal energy by heat exchange, whereas thermal energy is transformed to chemical energy by boiling dissociation.”

Humans have been able to commercialise many of these forms of energy for our use. For instance, solar (electromagnetic) energy is used to boil water (thermal energy) and fossil fuels (chemical energy) are first burnt (thermal energy) and then used to run the wheels of automobiles (kinetic energy) through internal combustion engines.

Do you know where your energy comes from? With the help of a colleague, I created an Energy Map of India, which purports to have the geographic data of all major energy infrastructure in the country.

The map is incomplete in at least two ways: it does not have all energy for any one source, and it doesn’t include all sources. The map is therefore still a work-in-progress, and will continue to be so until we somehow stumble upon a treasure chest of geographic data. We do plan to incrementally improving the map over time.

In particular, if you are aware of data on solar projects in India, please contact me on Twitter or email. …


Siddharth Singh

I write on energy on Business Standard here:, and here:

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