The analysis of socioeconomic metabolism has largely been dominated by quantification of material flows on a mass basis. This neglects the energetic dimensions of the urban metabolism and makes analysis that integrates material and energy flows difficult. The present research applies Odum's emergy concept to integrate energy and material flows for the study of the socioeconomic metabolism of the Taipei area. We also take into consideration the urban sprawl in the Taipei area to study its relationship to the change of socioeconomic metabolism. We interpret SPOT satellite images from 1992 and 2002 to provide a deeper understanding of the whole urban system; results show that Taipei's urban areas increased in size during the past decades. Emergy‐based indicators show decreasing empower densities (total emergy use per area) of undeveloped and agricultural areas, whereas the empower density of urban areas has increased, which signals a convergence of resource flows toward urban areas. Such an increase of empower density is mainly due to fossil fuel use and translates into increased environmental loading and decreased sustainability. An analysis of the relationship between urbanization and socioeconomic metabolism indicates that changes in land use affect the characteristics of socioeconomic metabolism in Taipei. The effects of urban sprawl on Taipei's urban sustainability are also discussed.