Animating history: An energy Sankey movie, 1800–2019

Robert Suits, Ben Kleeman, Nathan Matteson, Liz Moyer, Milson Munakami, Kalyan Reddivari

Room: 105

2023-10-22T03:00:00ZGMT-0600Change your timezone on the schedule page
Exemplar figure, but none was provided by the authors

Concern over climate change is driving interest in changing the U.S. energy system, which is the result of two centuries of gradual development. Visualizing this evolution is vital to understanding this system, but visualizations in energy history do not fully capture its dynamics. In this project, we present an animated “Sankey diagram” that shows the evolution of the U.S. energy system from 1800 to the present. Sankey diagrams are commonly used to compactly represent energy systems, showing the flow of various energy types from primary sources to end uses. However, Sankey diagrams are rarely animated, because of the computational and graphical challenge in developing a generalizable architecture for presenting information cleanly. The project we present therefore involves both archival historical research and development of new software tools.