Gabor Doka pointed me to a publication by the Swiss EPA (Federal Office for the Environment, FOEN). The publication titled “Biogene Güterflüsse der Schweiz 2006″ (‘Flows of biogenic goods in Switzerland in 2006′) features many different Sankey diagrams. “Biogenic goods are defined as goods of biological origin, excluding those of fossil origin”. Data is based on Swiss statistical figures and valid for 2006. Available in German only (Download PDF 7,5 MB).

The overall structure of biomass flows is given in a generic layout and as Sankey diagrams with proportional arrow magnitudes for mass flows (unit is in 1000 tons, based on dry matter) as well as for energy content (in GWh, based on lower heat value of dry matter). These overview diagrams are structured in three columns ‘Production’, ‘Conversion’, and ‘Use/Disposal’. Imports are from top, exports to the bottom. This very clear structure for both mass and energy flows makes the complex diagrams easier to comprehend. These overview Sankey diagrams are available for download as a separate PDF file (still 3,2 MB)

The main diagram is then broken down into individual Sankey diagrams for the different sectors involved, such as plant production (PLB), animal farming (THA), and forestry (WAW) in the production column (orange colored processes), or food industry (LMI) and wood/paper industry (HPI) in the conversion sector (green colored process). Finally, in the use/disposal sector (red colored processes) we find goods consumption (WAK) along with energy generation and waste treatments.

This is the sectoral Sankey diagram for the food industry in Switzerland. We can see that a large part of the biomass for food production is imported, and that most production wastes are fed back into animal farming again. The red boxes are different waste treatments receiving input from the food industry.

The above is the goods consumption section. Main biogenic goods inputs are from food industry and wood/paper industry. The meat input is rather small comparatively. A big chunk of the mass output (namely waste wood and waste paper) feeds back into the wood/paper industry. 472.000 tons ended up in waste incineration that year, some 329.000 tons in waste water.

The Sankey diagrams in the study are interesting to browse and reveal a lot more interesting facts. The stuctured approach with the breakdown into smaller diagrams is very useful. The authors Baier and Baum from ZHAW at Wädenswil have done a great job in compiling this.

“The results of this study will serve as useful decision aids for strategic planning and assessments concerning the potential, use and management of biogenic resources (…) makes it possible to detect quantitative changes that occurred during a given period of time and to reach conclusions concerning the efficiency of measures taken.

Actually this way of visualizing statistical data with directional (from-to) information attached to it could serve as a role model for other national mass and energy accounts, I think.

Uh – this has become my largest post ever :o . But I think this was well worth it and the publication merits it. Your comments appreciated.

5 Responses to “Swiss Biomass Sankey Diagrams”

  1. Sankey Diagrams » Blog Archive » Waste Composition Sankey Diagram Says:

    [...] the rather complex Sankey diagrams presented in my previous post, here’s another comparatively simple one. It is presented on the website of consulting and [...]

  2. David Miller Says:

    These are really great Sankey diagrams. Do you know which software they used to do these?`

  3. phineas Says:

    @David: apparently they are using e!Sankey

  4. Sankey Diagrams » Blog Archive » Swiss Wood Flows Says:

    [...] received another diagram from Gabor Doka, who already pointed out the Swiss biomass flows Sankey diagrams to me. Gabor seems to have a close eye on publications in the environmental field in Switzerland, [...]

  5. Largest Sankey Diagram ever? | Sankey Diagrams Says:

    [...] was asked what the largest Sankey diagram I have seen so far was? Not sure about this. The Swiss biomass flows diagram I featured in January 2009 would be a candidate, but I think the following one is much larger, both in the actual diagram [...]