Jim Dehner 

 Tableau Visionary and Ambassador

Tableau How to’s,  Use Cases, and Forums Questions

Hey #DataFam

Let’s Talk

Open for

Post Links

Renewable Energy – How big is it-


A dashboard should tell a story beyond just presenting data.  It needs to be interesting and when possible encourage the viewer to interact and investigate to make the story their own. This is the end product



But that's several iterations later –
It started like this – as a result of a trip from Nashville to Chicago. In northern Indiana, there was a 10-mile stretch where as far as I could see to the east or the west all I saw were wind turbines. Wow – didn’t expect to see that – thought that wind power was just a west coast thing.  

I found a data set that includes the location of every wind turbine in the US –  They were concentrated in the mid-west and south  Not what I expected at all – I had a lot to learn!




While interesting there wasn't much of having a story from that data  – just raised a lot of questions – How much energy do wind turbines produce? Is it a significant portion of overall energy production? What about other renewable sources? How does it vary by state?



What would you do – something like this might work but how would you make that


To start you need data. Lots of data! – Energy generated in Kwh, by generation source at the state level – you could use a search engine and hope for the best – there are also several portals that you could consider


The energy data used here was found at www.eia.gov the US Energy Information Agency site but each energy source had to be extracted separately – (a future post will go through the Tableau Prep flow used to combine and clean the separate energy source files). (Note: Data is for electric energy generation in 2017) 


But what's the story? – Does energy generated from renewable sources represent 10% of the total?  That’s what I thought before looking at the data but that’s just not right – nationally it is closer to 15% and in some states renewable energy sources can account for 85% of the total. 
  • the portion of the energy generated from each of the renewable sources in each state
  • the state rank nationally 
  • and the trend since the start of the century

That would be a much more interesting story than just the location of wind turbines that got my initial interest.   It would also be good if the dashboard was dynamic so individual users could look at their state or region.

The upper portion of the viz is where you can create the  most impact – Make the title a statement that takes the user away from any preconceived notions and uses BAN blocks present both presents the facts and set the color code for the rest of the viz
The block color – teal for Hydro, Gold for Solar, Red for Wind and Black to total all sources will be used throughout the remaining charts

Now build on the story including a Trend chart to show growth since the start of the century and a state-level ranking chart to see a comparison throughout the area.  

They are relatively straightforward area and bar charts using the percent of total calculation



Finally, allow the user to select a state or area and change all the charts accordingly –

That’s the fun part and you may have noticed references to sets in the previous charts –


Sets and set actions driven off a state map make the dashboard dynamic. 
To create the State set, Open the STATE pill and Select CREATE then SET


When the box opens Select any STATE – we are going to change it with a set action, so the initial value is not important
Next, create a simple Map at the State level

Drag State to the canvas to create the map and be sure to place the State Set on the marks card




Bring it all together on a dashboard using containers to fix the location of the individual sheets
Make your point in the title and always include attributions for data sources, functions, or material that are not your own.  Also, if you want the user to do something you need to tell them what to do and why
One last thing – need to make the dashboard dynamic by adding a set action
And then set the action to go from the map on the selection form the viz
on the individual worksheets set action filter has been added
The filter is set as IN meaning that the States selected from the Map will be applied as the filter – you can select a single state, or several using a Cntl Select or use the lasso to select an area

Congratulations – you’re done!




Download the actual workbook, complete with  “How To” instructions, from my Tableau Public site at https://public.tableau.com/profile/jim.dehner#!/vizhome/RenewableEnergySources/Dashboard1  – 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.