I just discovered a new web tool that might interest our readers: DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) has developed the 2050 Calculator, an exiting tool where you can create a UK emissions reduction pathways and see its  impacts. This cool application is based on actual UK data, and it’s made possible through the use of Linked Open Data.

The tool visualizes   energy demand, supply of energy and  greenhouse gas emissionsGreenhouse gas emissions cause dangerous anthropogenic climate change. Emissions include CO2, fluoridated gases, methane which are emitted by human activity such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, and water vapour. for the UK. Demand for energy covers  themes such as transport, domestic heatingDomestic heating describes the heating of private homes. and national freight. Supply of energy includes all types of renewable energyRenewable energy is power generated from infinite sources, such as wind or solar power. Conventional energy is generated from finite sources, such as natural gas or fossil oil. as well as conventional types of generation. Usually one can act out several “levels” of ambition (level 1 to level 4), from little to high effort. Clean (solar) electricityElectricity generation includes all technologies that turn some form of energy into useful electric energy. Electricity is a form of energy that has magnetic, radiant and chemical effects. Electric current is created by a flow of electrons. imported from Southern Europe, or in the future possibly from the Sahara, can be integrated as part of the four levels  regarding “electricity imports”.
Sometimes you will find the levels A, B, C, D – these levels represent different scenarios rather than levels of ambition. For example how biomassEnergy resources derived from organic matter. These include wood, agricultural waste and other living-cell material that can be burned to produce heat energy. They also include algae, sewage and other organic substances that may be used to make energy through chemical processes.Biomass, a ... could be used, solid or as liquid, are types of such scenarios.

If you want to dig deeper into one of these sectors, you can find out details by clicking on the name of that sector.

While of one can play out lots of different scenarios pretty freely, there are some restriction in order to stay realistic. For example it’s not possible to plaster all rooftops with P.V.Photovoltaics (PV) is the field of technology and research related to the application of solar cells for energy by converting sunlight directly into electricity. Solar power is sometimes used as a synonym to refer to electricity generated from solar radiation. as well as solar thermal collectorsA solar collector gathers and stores the sun's energy via a network of pipes through which water or anti-freeze is heated. Flat plate collectors are the most common type; they consist of copper tubes fitted to a flat absorber plate. Evacuated tube collectors are more efficient, working best in ..., and if there is to be more district heatingThe district heating net is a pipe network that supplies heating and hot water for connected consumers from a central power plant. It's an efficient way to provide heat and power., a switch to strictly non-thermal electricity is not allowed. I quite like that as that’s a crucial part about low-carbon energy – choices have to be made.Wind Energy

While the tool is completely based on real data it doesn’t make assumption about the rest of the world, for example how the carbon marketA system in which Carbon is given an economic value, allowing people, companies or nations to trade it. If a nation bought carbon, it would be buying the rights to burn it, and a nation selling carbon would be giving up its rights to burn it.  might influence development.

It’s also possible to discuss and share pathways and to further understand some of the implications of heading down a certain direction. Original analysis is also available on the site. An excel sheet free to download gives you all the nitty-gritty details – it can be used for scenario modeling and peer review.

The 2050 Calculator gives technicians, policy makers, interested public, staff of ministries the possibility to gain much deeper understanding of the challenges we are going to face.  At the same time it is a well-developed tool that is fun to toy around with and another great example of how Linked Open Data can be applied.

For students and the general public there is a faster and easier way to play around with energy-related data:  My2050  is a great way to play around with supply and demand. You can adjust how to generate your power, be it fossil, nuclear or renewable. One the other hand, demand can be controlled too: will houses be better insulated? How will the manufacturing industry change? What cars will we drive? Once you have made your choices, you will quickly see whether you are producing enough energy. To make it even tougher, your world in 2050 must get down to 20% or less in CO2 emissionsEmissions of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas precursors, and aerosols associated with human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, land-use changes, livestock, fertilisation, etc. (IPCC). Again, data comes from the UK’s Linked Open Data at data.gov. uk.

Try it!

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