New interactive tool for exploring future U.S. energy-use scenarios

Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy released an interactive online tool “to help researchers, educators, and students explore future U.S. energy-use scenarios.” The Buildings Industry Transportation Electricity Scenarios (BITES) Tool is a scenario-based tool for analyzing how changes in energy demand and supply by economic sector can impact carbon dioxide emissions.

This web-based tool can be used in the middle and high school classroom to enable students to manipulate inputs, such as energy sources used for electricity generation and transportation fuel use, and to compare outputs and impacts on carbon dioxide emissions and the U.S. energy mix to the year 2050. Output data are made available in graphic form giving your students exposure to interpreting graphs.

To get started, watch the 4 minute intro video on the BITES website and then view scenarios that have already been created or, after a quick registration process, you can start building your own scenario.  A good starting point would be to show your students either the 2010 or 2011 Annual Energy Outlook (U.S. Energy Information Administration) base case.  By not making any changes to the inputs for this base scenario, the outputs will reflect current projections for the “business as usual” scenario. From here students can create their own scenarios, making modifications to one or more economic sectors and then comparing outputs to those of the base case.

Educator resources, including a tutorial and an online learning module are going to be available soon.

The BITES team is very interested in feedback, suggestions and lesson plans developed using the BITES tool! Please consider providing feedback on ways to improve the website and interface as well as sharing the lessons you build around using the BITES Tool. Feedback can be sent to



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