U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Energy Education & Workforce Development
Text-Alternative Version: Webcast on BITES
AUSTIN BROWN: Thanks, Matt. By way of refresher, my name is Austin Brown, and I'm an analyst with the National Renewable Energy Lab in Washington, DC and I am also an adjunct facility member at John's Hopkins University in Washington, DC.
I'm going to be talking today about a project that we've been running for some time now based on some analysis tools that we developed for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
So we're going to go very quickly, about five minutes, just an overview of the project and how ended up producing the web tool for the analysis that we did. I will take a break with a quick demo, and then come back talk about some of the pilot workshops that we have done this far and then close with what this group might be able to help with if you're interested in getting involved getting.
So energy use is really complicated, and I have these charts up here to illustrate that we use energy in diverse ways, so in at least four sectors residential building, commercial buildings, industrial, and transportation. That energy comes from many different sources both fossil such as petroleum coal natural gas and renewable which are currently a smaller share of the energy mix.This is a huge challenge when it comes to teaching students both energy use in our system today and what the potential is for energy in the future.
It's also a challenge when you are trying to work in an office like the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which addresses energy use in these different sectors and for many different energy sources.
Energy use is intrinsic to our entire economy and the news is inundated with the pros and cons for these so we are always trying to develop these tools that help us cut through some of the rhetoric and experiment with the energy system and then those principals applied to teaching and trying to demonstrate to students that many tradeoffs exist in this complex system.
We have also faced these issues in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Within the office there are diverse programs that address many goals including environmental goals, energy securities goals and economic goals. Here each dot is proportional to the size of the budget of these programs. You can see we work in electric generation, we work in transportation, we work in efficiency, and we work in deployment and in diverse energy sources and uses in all of those areas.
Over the last couple of years we've been doing analysis on how those programs can combine to address the goals of the Department of Energy and of EERE (Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy). So it is a real analytic challenge to connect the energy uses, the energy sources to the goals that EERE has.
For example, if in both building technologies such as appliances and industrial processes, advanced vehicles and renewable electric supply, how do we combine impact in much of these sectors to set goals for the overall office? We developed some relatively simple spreadsheet-based tools to combine impacts in each of the program areas that EERE works in and then examine the effect on those overall goals at the whole economy level.
We didn't set out to build those tools into an educational product, they were just the tools that we developed in order to serve the needs of the office, but by time we were at a stopping point and could take our breath, we realized that some of these tools might be useful for both interested people on the web and then potentially as a component of a teaching curriculum.
BITES works in four different sectors. So the tool that we have developed and for the internet are called Buildings Industry Transportation Electricity Scenarios tool or BITES. It works in four sectors and it lets you try out levers to affect energy usage in those sectors so examples are given hear in each of the four sectors buildings. You can do things like apply building codes; apply retrofits which would make older buildings more efficient you can affect the appliance efficiency of varieties of appliances. In industry affect the efficiency of various industrial uses and switch fuels for example petroleum feedstock's to biomass based feedstock's. In transportation you can affect the efficiency of light vehicles and light trucks you can affect the variables of heavy trucks you can change the amount of renewable fuels in the system and affect the demand or the miles that are driven in the scenario. And lastly in electricity, you can affect the balance between natural gas and renewable nuclear and coal and other fossil energy with or without carbon capture and sequestration.
With that I'm going to tab over to give a brief demonstration. I am just going to run through h a very simple scenario. The tool runs in both a basic mode and an advanced mode. I am going to be just demonstrating the basic mode here today which is what we have used at workshops so far. For context, the basic mode has approximately 20 inputs in those four sectors and advanced mode has about 400. It is really a whole additional level down route to try out the advanced mode.
So when you click this to get started it brings you into a scenario screen with a little bit of guidance on what to do. When you're not logged in, as I'm not logged in right now, I can only view scenarios that already exist and are shared. So for example, I can pull up the Annual Energy Outlook Base Case. That will bring me into the scenario, and I can go down and view the output of what that case is showing us. For example, I can look at total emissions by sector this shows the CO2 emissions from now until 2050 extrapolated from the Annual Energy Outlook which is a reference case developed by the Energy Information Administration in both buildings industrial and transportation. There's a variety of other metrics that I won't run through right now, but we can look at for example where they use up energy and where that energy comes from. Here we are showing petroleum, nuclear use, natural gas, coal, wind and other uses. So the start just looking at a reference case so if a student takes their time to go through this especially with some aid from some exploratory questions you can begin to learn a lot about both how we use energy today in each of these individual sectors and the projections on how we will be using energy in the future. Now I am going to log in so I can edit one of these scenarios and that way I can demonstrate a few of the options that we have available to us. So now in addition to shared scenarios, the my scenarios area, becomes available and I am also able to create a new scenario.
I am going to name this TestBITE. Then I am going to base this on the Annual Energy Outlook 2011 as our baseline and I am going to run this in basic mode. Now that I have created a scenario my TestBITE scenario appears on the list. I can look up the information and see that since I haven't changed anything I have zero percent reduction from the base case and zero percent reduction from any of the other metrics. When I open the scenario up, I can now see the tools I have to experiment with this energy scenario. We have the ability to change the scenario in buildings, in industry, in transportation and in electricity.
I'm just going to make a very basic scenario today, so why don't I go to transportation and maybe rather than the 38 miles per gallon fleet that is in the reference case maybe I think we can get up 60 miles per gallon. Maybe I think we can make non light duty vehicles such as trucks, so if I'm curious as to what that is so I can mouse over it and it will tell me what I am doing. I can make those vehicles maybe 20 percent more efficient. I am going to save my scenario and then move on to the electricity tab and make a few more changes.
Today I'm going to try a blend of mostly renewable and natural gas electricity. So I am going to drop the coal slider down to ten percent and I'm going to make renewables 50 percent, and then to fill the gap I'm going to make natural gas 24%. You will notice that I can generate outputs until I save my scenario so I am going to save my scenario and then with that quick little change, let's see how we did. When I click generate outputs it pops up an output screen screen showing us how we did. Especially if I allow pop ups.So now I can see immediately in my summary screen that by those changes I have reduced the 2050 emissions by about 40% which is very significant.
I have slightly less oil reduction because most of my changes were in the electricity sector or at least a lot of them were in the electricity sector as a student I would be able to explore the cause and effect by going back and iterating these changes. But for today I will just walk through a few of the scenario outputs. We can look at the delivered energy and see that rather than a big increase like we had before we're pretty much staying very flat. I can look at where we are getting the energy and now I see a much greater diversity of renewable sources entering into the fuel mix in the future. If I want to know how I did and compared to the reference page I can go to the benchmarking and here I can see where my 2011 base case that I started with and where my testBites gets me. I can reference that down and look for example, at how the transportation sections changed and I can look in that sector. Or I can look in for example, industry we can see only a small change because of the electricity scenario and not a major change because I did not apply any actions to that scenario. I think that's the scenario I am going to show you today. The site is up and live, if you want to go try out. It's still beta, so you can break it. We would like to get feedback on it especially if you have any game breaking bugs especially.
So with that, I think we will go on an show how to use this for education. We are essentially complete with adapting the tool for the web, although we do try to improve as we get feedback from users. Our goals for education are to allow students to gain familiarity with the US Energy profile. That is before you even try any changes you can learn a lot about how to use energy in the US seeing Some of these charts and tables. We want students to explore the tradeoffs that are seen between sectors and individual technologies. One common misconception is that you can change the entire energy system or remove all the CO2 emission by working only in on sector like electricity. This tool allows you to see how far you will get with only working in one or a few sectors.
We would like students to generate a realistic cross sector scenario that meets or approaches their energy or carbon emission targets. So you can go back and iterate and try out scenarios and see how you do and continuously evaluate the effect vs. the benchmark of the goal you are trying to achieve. In especially in the classroom of context we believe the greatest values in the discussion, comparison, and justification of selected scenarios. In the pilot workshops we've run so far, which I will talk about momentarily, it's been in this phase where the students are able to question each other constructively though critically about their own assumptions and what could go into one of these scenarios where most of the learning seems to really occur.
What we've done so far is develop a draft curriculum this is something that we have really developed as a team and are really looking to test out so it is far from complete. The timeline of the workshop is that we have scoped out a three-hour class time with a break in the middle. We begin with an introduction to energy use going over some of the ways we use energy today and the projections, a quick demo of the tool like the one that I've just given you so that the students can understand where to start. Then we break into student groups defined by sector, there will be at least four groups one for buildings, one for industry, one for transportation, and one for electricity. Those student groups are given a goal to try to meet. Energy and emissions goals in that sector by implementing changes only there. That is a constant that makes it very challenging more impossible to meet those goals and so that the student sees that action only in one area really ties you hands when it come to trying to meet these goals. At that point after hearing from each of the groups and the scenarios that they have explored, we reshuffle the groups to make sure that we have a one student from each group. To illustrate that I have a little chart. So if each of these numbered circles were students in the first orientation, they would be a sector group. Then we would cross walk all those students into a new group so that in this case if you looked at group 2 student one would be buildings, student 5 expert in industry, student 9 would be an expert in transportation, and student 13 would be sorry that should be electricity that's a typo. The goal there is to make the students their own instructors and really take the learning that they have developed in the initial section and bring that to the group environment.
Following that, each of the groups present the scenario they settle on to the other groups so they can compare and contrast there outputs, how close they came to the goals, and how creditable they believe their scenario is. At the end, if the groups are fairly close, we encourage them to meet to try to develop a consensus scenario for what they believe could be possible, but that is a reach goal and certainly not a requirement of the workshop.
We've run three pilot workshops so far between six (participants) was the smallest and forty large. That large one was at was the University of Michigan it was a large single class that was studying energy technology and policy, so it was a mix of graduates and advanced graduate students that were near the end of the semester so there was a high level of familiarity with these energy issues. A slightly smaller group that was not as familiar was at Santa Clara University this was a mix of graduate students but they weren't as familiar with energy technologies., and the workshop itself actually ran really differently with a lot more discussion and exchange of knowledge with the fundamentals of the scenario rather than the credibility of the individual scenarios.
We have incorporates some of the feedback into the curriculum and the development plans for BITES as a tool, but we really think that we've just begun to scratch the surface. We have really only worked with a couple of groups with different backgrounds and we would love to explore how these tools could be used for students of a variety of different education levels interests and backgrounds.
So in that spirit the sort of feedback I am looking for today is in an ongoing basis, ideally would be volunteers who are interested in either running or hosting pilot workshops. We have had a member of the BITES team there to help facilitate it, but we obviously want to transition into a workshop that runs itself the materials that stand on their own but we're of course happy to provide as much as support as is desired at this early stage. We would love to have as many volunteers as we can back on the curriculum if it is clear, how can it be more useful, is it working, which environments is it working in and we're open to big or small changes. An open question for us is do we continue to develop into one version or do we try to fork the curriculum into different versions for different use cases such as potentially high school, undergraduate, graduate.
And then we're always open to feedback on the general site. You can always contact me at Austin.Brown@nrel.gov or there is a link on the website https://bites.nrel.gov/index.php. We are still in beta but we are going to officially launch in a month. We will move to continuing proofing as we go. With that I think I'll turn it back over to Matt, and I look forward to hearing any questions from the group.
MATT GARCIA: OK. Well, with that I guess thank you all for coming to the webinar and listening to us today. Again, this information will be available to you, and we will email out a summary with some test information and contact information and assorted links as well too. The most important thing out of this is we really value your feedback. You guys are the one that will eventually be able to use these tools like BITES best please reach out to us and we will do our best to be as collaborative as possible. Alright, well thank you very much and we will be emailing you guys later. Thank you.