Author: phineas

World GHG Emissions 2016

Here is an updated version of the world greenhouse gases emissions diagram for 2016. This was published 2019 by World Resources Institute (WRI) on their website.


Flows are in giga tonnes CO2 equivalents (GtCO2e). Overall emissions contributing to climate change were 49.4 GtCO2e. The first column is a breakdown per sector, the second one lists the activity causing the release. The third column shows the actual gas (GHG)

You can compare the quantities to the previous editions with data for 2000 and 2012, but mind that these figures are structured differently.

In addition to this “static” Sankey diagram there is also an interactive version that lets you explore the individual streams by hovering the mouse over the diagram.

If you like WRI’s work you might want to consider supporting them.

LatAm BEN – Costa Rica

Here is an add to my mini-series on energy balances of Latin American countries. I had previously featured Costa Rica’s balance energetico nacional for 2010. So here is an updated version for 2015.


This is from a report ‘Matriz Energética de Costa Rica. Renovabilidad de las fuentes y reversibilidad de los usos de energía’ by Diego Zárate Montero and Remigio Ranírez García’ published October 2016 (available here). Flows are in TJ, and data from the Dirección Sectorial de Energía. This 2015 version is based on the design of the 2010 version, and you can compare them directly to see, for example, changes in energy consumption per sector.

Energy Flows in US Manufacturing Sector

From the report “Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation” published February 2019 by Breakthrough Energy, IHS Markit, and Energy Futures Initiative comes the below Sankey diagram showing energy flows in the United States manufacturing sector.


Figure based on data from U.S. Department of Energy, 2010 Manufacturing Energy and Carbon Footprint. Flows are in Trillion BTUs (TBtu, Trillion British thermal units). Energy used in manufacturing is steam (heat), electricity and fuels. Energy use is broken down into 5 types of processes in the manufacturing sector. “Applied Energy” is shown in green (58%), and use losses in light grey (42%).

EU Food Flows 2011

This comprehensive and well-structured Sankey diagram on food production, waste and consumption is featured in an article ‘Quantification of food waste per product group along the food supply chain in the European Union: a mass flow analysis by Carla Caldeira et al. (published as open access article under CC BY license in: Resources Conservation and Recycling · June 2019). (Addendum 23/10/20: The Sankey diagram is a (minor) adaptation of a diagram produced by Kemna et al. 2017 in a study from VHK for the European Commission. See comments section for link). The paper “presents a high-level top-down approach to food waste accounting in the European Union.”

Flows are in megatonnes (Mt) wet mass for the year 2011. The diagram shows “feed and food flows, excluding soft drinks, mineral waters and some non-perishable foodstuffs (salt, coffee, etc.)”.

The figure is split in two parts. On the left we see the stages production, processing and distribution, with gaps between the streams to better be able to distinguish them. The food flows reaching the consumption stage (365 Mt) are bundled and shown in a much more compact diagram inset, but still on the same scale, it appears.
Here we can differentiate the amount going to food service (restaurants etc.) and consumption in private households. We also learn that approximately 60 Mt of what is being purchased for consumption still ends up as food waste.
In the other hand, a large portion of rejects and waste in the production stages is fed back into the system (chartreuse colored flow at the bottom) and being used as animal feed. Much more detail there to discover…

Check out this related Sankey diagram on Material Flows in the U.S. Food System

Basque Country Circular Economy 2030

A post on the ‘Low Carbon Future’ blog by IDOM caught my attention as it featured the below Sankey diagram. The post is a summary of an event held back in 2019 on the elaboration of a Circular Economy Strategy for the Basque Country” (“Foro de participación para la elaboración de la Estrategia de Economía Circular del País Vasco 2030”).

The diagram shows mass flows in mega tonnes (Mt) for the year 2016 within the autonomous community in the North of Spain. While the arrows are unicolored, stacked bars on the streams reveal their composition with contributions from metallic minerals, non-metallic minerals, fossil fuels, biomass and others.

Somehow I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I had seen something similar before. And indeed a similar Sankey diagram for global flows is featured in this post from 2015 and – even more so – one for EU material flows in this followup post from 2018. They seem to have served as a template for the creation of a regional Basque version.

Passive House School Building in Germany

Sankey diagrams from Germany (and in German) can be found abundantly on the web (try a Google image search for ‘Energiefluss Sankey Diagramm’). So, when lagging behind or short of time I sometimes pick one for a Friday afternoon post.

Here is one I found on the web page of ‘BINE Informationsdienst’, a resource portal for energy research and examples from practice. This Sankey diagram produced by Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal.

This energy flow Sankey diagram is for the first school in Germany built in 2014 according to Passivhaus standard in Halle. Flows are in MWh aggregated over a 12 month period. Energy harvested from solar panels on the school’s roof and a wind turbine were 76.1 MWh, with energy from grid amounting to 76.9 MWh. However, 35.5 MWh could be fed back to the grid (Netz-Einspeisung).

Circular Zinc Flows

While some were indulging in an extended spring cleaning (this year labeled ‘quarantine cleaning’) I decided to take on some of the hard disks sitting on my desk.

These circular zinc flow diagrams from 2011 survived the cleaning and are getting a new life here on the blog. They are more or less two versions of the same diagram, apparently with a Sankey diagram in mind.

The first is a top view and shows zinc flows in the economy (U.S. or world? … sorry, but I don’t have the accompanying text any more). Flows are in millions of tonnes (Mt) in 1996. The second one has the same numbers, but adds a 3D perspective…

Some tricky issues here: The ‘zinc in products’ stream of 8.1 Mt narrows down to zero, as the zinc sits in products, from where it later might be released into the cycle again. This does not help the attempt to draw them in a circle (to associate circularity of zinc flows). As a consequence the streams are not to scale (compare, for example the 0,8 Mt scrap feed flow right next to the 6,6 Mt flow for zinc from mines). The 3D perspective and the shadow effect don’t help in any way here…

Check out some more Sankey diagrams with the tag ‘circular’ and this post on radial Sankey diagrams.