I’ve lost count of the number of energy mix charts I’ve seen in the last few weeks, and practically all infuriate me. There have been pie charts in abundance that have succeeded in making the information completely unreadable, and the remaining stacked area and bar diagrams do a pretty good job of obscuring much of what is relevant or interesting. Take this fine chart for example:
The only values we can reliably compare are the total installed capacity and those for nuclear as these are the only two which share a common baseline. Take a moment to study the growth of natural gas (red) in the early part of the chart, as the elevation for each bar is determined by the values below it we are forced to judge each segment individually before making comparisons between it and its neighbours.
I recently came across some energy consumption data for the UK since 1970 and came up with an alternative method of display. The light grey bars are used to show the total energy consumption, and a breakdown of either the fuel type or sector are shown within. Crucially though all elements for comparison are shown along the same baseline which hopefully makes trends easier to follow.
|Click here to enlarge|
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Comments below make reference to the following images,
|Image 1. Chris Twigg|
|Image 2. Ben Willers|
To read more about this visualisation click >here to visit The Guardian Datablog.