Sankey diagrams of Canada's energy systems

Sankey diagrams are often used to represent the flows of energy from sources (e.g. oil, gas, uranium) through commodities (e.g. gasoline, electricity) to sectorial energy demands (e.g. residential, mobility, commercial and institutional). The magnitude of the energy flow is proportional to the line thickness. Try using the options at the top of the chart to compare provinces or years, or to plot either all components of our energy systems or only the energy flows needed to meet domestic demand. You can also select whether to have the Sankey diagram display values as total energy flow (PJ), energy flows per person (GJ/capita) or energy flows per gross domestic product (MJ/$2002GDP).

We choosed to represent six end-use sectors for energy:

  1. Non energy: energy commodities (refined pretroleum products, natural gas etc) embedded in material such as paints, varnishes, plastics, etc.
  2. Personal Transport: includes personal vehicles, public transit, airplanes, etc.
  3. Residential: includes lighting, heating, cooking, plugloads, etc. for where people live 
  4. Freight Transport: the movement of goods including by truck, train, ship, pipelines, etc. 
  5. Commercial and Institutional: includes lighting, heating and cooling in all commercial and institutional buildings (warehouses, stores, office buildings, universities, schools etc) 
  6. Industrial: the industry sectors that use (not produce) energy for manufacturing, mining, steel, cement, chemical industries, etc. In our energy Sankeys, the energy producing industry sectors are considered ‘service’ industries in the centre of the diagram that provide energy commodities such as refined petroleum production, pipelined natural gas, electricity etc. for the end use sectors.
  • What is "e for e (in/out)"? “e for e = energy for energy” Energy recovery and conversion facilities typically require other fuels to produce their energy commodities (e.g. even an oil refinery needs electricity). However, the Sankey software we use does not allow energy to flow from the right to left. So in the Sankey diagrams we combine the energy currencies needed for energy recovery/conversion and send it out the right side of the diagram, and into the left side.
  • Want to compare provinces or years? Lock the scale by checking the box in the options. Uncheck the box to display the Sankey using the best scale available.
  • The Sankey looks a bit cluttered? You can drag and drop flows by clicking on nodes.
  • Sankey not displaying? Sankey diagrams may not display if you use Internet Explorer prior to version 10 -- recent versions of all other browsers are working fine.
  • Numbers and flows may not add up due to rounding.
  1. The values were obtained from the Canadian Energy Systems Simulator (CanESS) model which was built and calibrated with 32 years of historical data drawn from government sources such as Statistics Canada, Natural resources Canada, Environment Canada, National Energy Board, etc.
  2. The CanESS model not only calculates energy flows, it also calculates the greenhouse gas emissions that occur when energy is converted from one form into another, or when energy commodities are used to provide energy services. Theses Sankeys do not show greenhouse gas emissions but that data can be visualized here.
  3. The CanESS model can project future energy flows and greenhouse gas emissions based on assumptions about population change, GDP growth and technology choices.

This Sankey diagram is version 0.9 (data build: 140407).

Select the scope and a year

CESAR | Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research

Canada's Energy Systems in 2010



Crude oil

Natural gas




End-use energy

Renewable energy


Conversion losses


Primary energy

Imports and exports

Harvesting and conversion technologies

Fuel use for energy producers

Powered by CanESS

Data source: CanESS v6.
Sankey diagram built with D3’s Sankey plugin.


Sweet visualization.  Are these estimates for higher or lower heating values of fuels?  Given how you have defined "e for e in/out", perhaps it makes more sense to create an end use category called "energy processing".  Depending on how you have defined "useful energy" and "conversion losses" you could send all of this flow to conversion loss or split it between useful energy and conversion loss.  You could then just integrate the 'e for e in' flows, into the primary energy flows on the entering the on the left.  It would be great if you added functionality to export the flows as a csv file.



Hi Blane, Thank you for your interest. In our calculations for the Sankeys, we use higher heating values but consider the conversion loss that occurs with different technologies. One thing we believe is important for these Sankey images, is to communicate the magnitude of the conversion losses that occur with the harvesting, conversion and service technologies that are being used today - or could be used in the future. This is why we show 'e for e in/out' as we do. In some energy systems diagrams, the energy consumed to recover and move energy around is shown as simply another industrial use of energy. That, I suggest, is not appropriate in an understanding of energy systems. We see the energy industries as occupying a unique place in our energy systems, essentially as large 'service' industries that provide energy commodities. Re data export, it would be very good to be able to do this, but that would require a different kind of agreement with whatIf? Technologies Inc. who use the models behind these Sankeys for consulting purposes. They have been very kind to let us use their models, in exchange for our contributions in validating and enhancing them.