A research group from INRIA Grenoble engineering school has set up a website for visualization of environmental data. Sankey diagrams are one available visualization option. The below is a sample provided on the website.

The Sankey diagram shows flows along the cereals production chain in France from the 2007/2008 harvesting campaign. Quantities are in 1000 tonnes.

Different grains are shown on the left: wheat (‘blé’), hard wheat (‘blé dur’), maize, barley (‘orge’) and others. Two large end nodes for unprocessed grain exports and use as animal feed (‘consommation animale’). There are further exports as intermediate and processed products. Only a comparatively small fraction is consumed by humans in France as bread, pasta, biscuits.

Could not detect use as energy crops, it is maybe hidden in the ‘industrial use’ flow. Anyway, an interesting application case for Sankey diagrams.

French Négawatt association is advocating a changed attitude towards energy use, expressed in the three words “sobriété – efficacité – renouvelable” (translates as frugalness/modesty, effciency, renewables). On their website they show Sankey diagrams for a 2010 and a 2050 energy scenario. A simplified and a detailed version is available for both years. Below is the detailed 2010 version.


(see a high-res image with magnifying/zoom feature here)

Flows are in TWh. As common in this type of energy flow Sankey diagram they show in a left-to-right orientation the primary energy sources, energy conversion, and final use. Additionally there is a sum for each of the columns that tells us the overall energy efficiency: In 2010, to provide 1908 TWh energy to the users required 3009 TWh of primary energy (1,58:1).

These Sankey diagrams in my opinion are very-well structured, information-rich and don’t lack a certain esthétique

A Sankey diagram made up from rectangles is shown in this post on the blog ‘8-e.fr’ by MM.

The diagram is based on data for 2011 by the French national statistics bureau (INSEE) and the statistics observatory (SoES) of the Ministry for Environment and Sustainability. The author of the post comments that modifications were made in regard to the conversion of primary energy (“Nous corrigeons ce défaut de principe de l’INSEE pour mettre en relief les énergies primaires et secondaires réellement utilisées ou fournies.”) using average efficiency factors.

There are two sets of units: the black figures in MTEP (French for ‘million tons of oil equivalent’ MTOE) and the blue figures in MWh. Even though the flows are drawn with rectangles, one can grasp the general direction from top to bottom/top to left and losses to the bottom right by means of small arrows on the bands themselves. The width of flows seems to be pretty much to scale. The whole diagram a bit overloaded, with a high information density. Nevertheless, it caught my attention…

Back after a short later summer break. From a French educational website talking about agricultural practice and environmental management (‘Pratiques agricoles et gestion de l’environnement’) this small distribution Sankey diagram.

Another one in the Misc (Almost) Uncommented Series…

From the Mostly Uncommented Series, here is another one that has been sitting in my collection.

Black/White Sankey diagram for energy gains and losses in a building. Titles in French. Shadow effects. No values given. Unnecessary crossing of Sankey arrows. Not sure where I downloaded this from, will have to check my bookmarks. In the meantime, pls have a nice week-end…

After my last post on the Paris Urban Metabolism I continued to research that topic a little more. I came across another example from France. The below Sankey diagram is from an article on territorial metabolism in the rural village of Contres in France. (“H4 développe une démarche de métabolisme territorial à Contres”).

In this study, the consultant company H4 Valorisation analysed the material and energy flows liked to the villages economic and agricultural activities. Different scenarios were evaluated, focusing primarily on (1) reducing imports and rejects (waste and pollutants), (2) increasing usage of local resources, and (3) looking at reuse of material internally (les rebouclages internes).

The Sankey diagram shows both mass and energy in one diagram, so the inputs and outputs of the central node (representing the village of Contres) are not balanced when summed up. Mass flows are in tons (per year?) in blue and red colors. Energy is in Mwh per year and shown in orange color. Greenhouse gas emissions from energy used is also represented in pale yellow expressed in tonnes of CO2-equivalents.

Haven’t seen many Sankey diagrams dealing with urban metabolisms. So I was happy to stumble across this one for Paris, France on Nels’ blog.

Grey and one color seems to be en vogue for Sankey diagrams these days… ;)

A presentation from 2005 on the French energy flows included the Sankey diagram below (I prefer not to name the author or the link to the original source, in order not to embarass anybody).


This Sankey diagram is pretty much messed up, and definitely a candidate for the “Worst Sankey Diagram Contest” that has already been called for. It took me a few seconds to understand that the flows dangling vertically below the blue arrow are actually a breakdown of the 177 mtep consommation finale. Vraiment … j’ai vu mieux que ça!

This is more or less how I would do it. Less colors, a breakdown of the blue flow into the five consumption sectors.