Archive for the 'Geothermal' Category

American Geoscience Institute’s Critical Issues Program

I recently learned about the American Geoscience Institute’s (AGI) Critical Issues Program, a “portal to decision-relevant, impartial, expert information from across the geosciences.”  This website is a potential place to look when you are searching for information related to issues at the intersection of geoscience and society, including energy, climate, water, mineral resources and natural hazards. In fact,writing that last sentence also made me think of  recent commentary I read titled “Why I am a geoscientist” in which the author, Erig Riggs, PhD, states that he loves being a geoscientist because it is an “area of science so directly relevant to the public.”

Energy topics covered include coal, geothermal energy, hydraulic fracturing, mineral resources, nuclear energy, oil and gas and renewable energy. The “Basics” section for each energy topic includes a brief summary that also describes why this topic matters to society and that explains how geoscience informs decisions about the particular topic.  The “Learn More” section includes links to introductory resources, frequently asked questions, related maps and visualizations along with references.  Resources featured come from the US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Geological Society of America, The National Academies and USGS and others.

Furthermore, AGI offers three earth science focused activities aligned to the Common Core English Language Arts standards and the Next Generation Science Standards that can be used to prepare grades 6-12 students to read and evaluate informational text.

Want to learn more? Check out AGI’s Center for Geoscience and Society.


Interactive infographics from the IEA | World’s energy system through 2050

IEA World Energy 2012

The World’s Energy System in 2012

The International Energy Association’s publication Energy Technology Perspectives 2015, is accompanied by a set of interactive visualizations that utilizes the data and figures behind its publication on energy technologies.  I am an advocate for having students visualize the entire energy system – the diversity of energy sources used to provide electricity to homes and industry and to power our various modes of transportation.  I also find it useful to examine how the system is changing over time as our demand for energy grows in light of the need to limit society’s carbon dioxide emissions. These interactive infographics from the IEA illustrate how the world’s energy system will evolve through 2050.  There are three parts to this online tool: an energy flow visualization, an emissions reduction visualization and a transportation visualization. Here I am featuring the energy flow visualization where the  user can hover over a specific energy source, transformation or end user to study a particular energy flow.  The diagram below shows the global energy flow for coal in 2012 and for 2050 (projected); one can easily compare the two graphics to see that coal use will decrease while global energy demand will increase.  Have you considered asking your students to evaluate and explain energy flow diagrams?

IEA World Energy 2012 and 2050_coal

Global energy flow for coal in 2012 and for 2050 (projected).

The emissions reduction visualization tool allows the user to assess how individual countries or regions can reduce carbon dioxide emissions via deployment of technologies and energy efficiency measures under three different warming scenarios (2°C, 4°C and 6°C). The transport visualization tool enables the user to select an “indicator” such as annual road energy consumption for a specific country, region or the world to visualize the extent to which the selected indicator needs to change to limit Earth’s average global temperature to either 2°C, 4°C or 6°C.  According to the IEA website. “the 2°C Scenario is the main focus of ETP 2015. It lays out the pathway to deploy an energy system and emissions trajectory consistent with what recent climate science research indicates would give at least a 50% chance of limiting average global temperature increase to 2°C.”  You can read the Executive Summary of the ETP 2015 here.

And if you want to read more about energy flow diagrams, check out this post.

eBook – Our choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

Our choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis is one eBook that comes highly recommended by a few teachers I know and it was also picked as a Best App or website  for Teaching & Learning 2013 by the American Association of School Librarians. This interactive eBook includes photography, interactive graphics, animations, and more than an hour of documentary footage. In 2011 it won the Apple Design Award for its “groundbreaking interface.” This eBook includes 18 chapters, including chapters on solar and wind energy, geothermal, biofuels, the smart grid, carbon capture and sequestration and nuclear energy! You can purchase this app from iTunes for $4.99.

If you use this resource with your students, I’d love to hear from you!

The Energy Lab from PBS NOVA Labs

novaThe Energy Lab from PBS NOVA Labs is a “virtual research platform for teens to engage in science by working with authentic data and taking part in “citizen science” projects.” Using this interactive online tool, students can pursue “research challenges” and use data to design renewable energy systems for real cities across the U.S. while competing with other players to see whose designs can produce the most power and reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the greatest extent.  The Energy Lab also includes a collection of eight short videos that will help students with their Research Challenge.

An educator’s guide is also available and will provide you with ideas for how to use this tool with students. The individual components of the Energy Lab are designed to give educators a range of options for integrating some or all of the Lab into classroom instruction. “From homework enrichment, to science fair project, to a week-long lesson module, the flexibility of the Energy Lab components will help you address the topics of energy, Earth’s systems, technology, engineering, and scientific modeling with your middle school or high school students.”

Assessing Renewable Energy Potential of Contaminated Sites

In its Re-Powering America Initiative, the US EPA is encouraging the development of renewable energy on current and previously contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites “when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.”  The type of sites assessed include: Superfund, RCRA Corrective Action, Abandoned Mine Land,
Landfills, and Brownfield sites that have received EPA funding.

repowering NC

Contaminated sites in NC with renewable energy potential.

The Re-Powering Mapper uses Google Earth to allow users to investigate over 66,000 contaminated sites that have been assessed for renewable energy potential.  Sites have been evaluated for their biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind potential.  Users can interact with the map by clicking on a site to learn more about its renewable energy potential.  Your students can select a site near their city/town and assess its renewable energy potential, critique available options and propose a renewable energy plan for the site.

In addition, there are Re-Powering Mapper Facts Sheets summarizing the renewable energy potential that exists for each of the following technologies: Biomass, Geothermal, Solar, and Wind. Each fact sheet includes examples of renewable energy facilities being successfully sited on contaminated land.

New online tool provides state and national Sankey diagrams

A newly released tool, Free Energy Data or FRED (Beta stage) allows users to visualize state and national energy flow using Sankey diagrams. FRED was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in partnership with two national laboratories and two non-profit organizations. To acquire Sankey diagrams for North Carolina,click on North Carolina on the home page and then click on “energy flows” and you will gain access to Sankey diagrams showing the energy flow in NC for the year 2010 and all the way back to 1964!  Users can navigate the diagrams by mousing over paths of interest. Users can also compare energy flow diagrams for two states using the 2×2 grid button at the top right of the home page.

To see national level data, open the “layers” button located next to the log in button and click on the pencil which will enable you to change your query from ‘stateprov’ to ‘country.’ Then click on the US and then “energy flows to access to Sankey diagrams showing the energy flow in the US for the year 2010 and all the way back to 1960!

EIA’s New Interactive Maps: State Energy Portal

ncAccording to the the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), its state energy portal is “the most comprehensive, dynamic, and interactive view of the U.S. government’s national and state energy data and information currently available to the public.”

The profile/map for NC can be found here. By clicking on the “Layers/Legend” tab and selecting one of five available base maps, educators can customize maps and charts for classroom use. Maps can be created to show availability of energy sources, transmission lines, major power plants as well as renewable energy potential for North Carolina.  Electricity, nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy profiles for the state are also available along with supporting data tables in Microsoft Excel. Also, by clicking on a specific power plant, the portal links users directly to that plant’s data in EIA’s electricity data browser (see corresponding blog post).

This tool also shows how NC ranks in comparison to the other 49 states in terms of energy production, consumption, prices for electricity and natural gas, and carbon dioxide emissions.

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