The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created an energy analysis tool to help individuals and educators experiment with future energy use scenarios. The interactive Buildings, Industry, Transportation, Electricity, and Transportation Scenarios (BITES) allows users to explore how changes in energy demand and supply can impact carbon dioxide emissions and the current U.S. energy trajectory.
“BITES can help people understand the complex issues surrounding the energy and carbon implications of altering America’s energy profile,” NREL Senior Analyst Austin Brown says. “By imagining ‘what-if’ scenarios, users are able to adjust inputs from things like electricity generation to transportation fuel use in order to compare their outcomes to baseline cases.”
The scenarios used in BITES were originally developed to examine strategic planning opportunities for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. DOE is interested in identifying research priorities where potential technical advances will have the greatest impact in achieving national energy goals. As the scenarios demonstrate, significant technology and policy deployment in every sector is required to meet U.S. climate and energy security goals.
BITES was adapted for the Web so anyone can investigate possible pathways for the U.S. energy economy. Users can adjust assumptions to each sector of the U.S. economy in order to evaluate outcomes, or combine these sector-specific strategies into a more complete picture of potential future energy use.
“For instance, someone could calculate how much energy could be saved by making homes and businesses more efficient,” Brown says. “They could also look at how much petroleum could be saved by making cars, trucks, and planes more efficient. And then, the users can put it all together and look at the combined impact of these situations.”
Scenarios created in BITES can be private, or they can be shared with the analysis community for discussion. Educators and students interested in energy and sustainability can use BITES to help teach the combined impacts of research, policy, or other forms of national action in energy. The BITES team has developed and piloted a college level workshop and is seeking interested educators to help further refine the curriculum. Information can be found online at https://bites.nrel.gov/education.php.
BITES launches with several featured scenarios representing the findings of high-profile studies. One example focuses on the potential for high penetration of renewables in the electric sector based on the recent Renewable Electricity Futures study.