Challenges in Adopting Sustainable Energy Pathways
Governments (at national, state, regional and local levels) and private industry face challenges when planning, investing, and monitoring their progress towards a more sustainable energy future.
- Energy information is often unavailable, difficult to access, and expensive to measure
- Methods for reporting data differ by organization, government and location, making meaningful comparison difficult, whether at a local or global level
- Energy planning and decision support tools are often complex, do not scale and tend to focus on a single energy topic, making it difficult to achieve integrated ‘systems thinking’ across all energy sectors
Because of these challenges, organizations will often have no choice but to hire expensive energy-planning professionals to help develop their energy resource plans. Or worse, organizations will simply defer such planning altogether.
Free Energy Database (FRED) Overview
In partnership with the US Department of Energy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, The Climate Group and Otherlab, we have built an energy data and planning platform called Free Energy Data (FRED). FRED is an on-line, cloud-based system that helps governments and private industry set goals, compare and monitor their progress towards a more sustainable energy future, while making energy information more accessible, transparent and consistent across organizations.
FRED’s primary data is drawn from the Energy Information Administration’s State Energy Data System and Annual Energy Outlook, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory efficiency data, and the Solar Energy Industries Association. We are working with additional sources and agencies to add additional datasets to make FRED an international decision-making platform.
FRED is not meant to replace detailed energy studies. Rather, it helps guide where those studies should be focused, to maximize the effectiveness of analytic effort, resources and spending.
FRED has eight core capabilities:
- Collect and display energy information from recognized scientific reporting agencies
- Normalize and merge data from various sources to make consistent and comparable
- Allows users to upload, store and view their own energy data
- Intuitive maps, graphs, and statistics to display data
- Side-by-side comparisons of users’ and scientific published data
- Interactive sankey diagrams showing energy flows across all fuel types and demand sectors
- Planning tool for users to compare forecasts of future energy scenarios and outcomes
- In future, FRED will allow user community to share and exchange energy data between organizations and locations (or keep to themselves if desired)
These components make FRED a powerful tool to assist with setting long-term energy goals, for tracking progress towards them, and for exchanging lessons-learned with peer organizations.
FRED was developed under a contract to the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by Planetary Skin Institute and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. FRED is openly available for anyone to use, including governments, corporations, scientific-community, media and the interested public. We are looking for partners to continue to enhance FRED’s functionality for the energy planning community.
See FRED at OpenEI, the DOE's open energy data and analytics exchange at Free Energy Data
Perspectives from our Partners
Dr. Saul Griffith, founder of Otherlab:
“Climate change has been called a ‘wicked hard’ problem. Finding solutions that simultaneously address technical limitations, social challenges, economics, and political realities is a daunting task. The power of [existing] tools to affect change has been inherently limited by their lack of at least one of three key features: 1) Energy and climate models do not scale from local up to a national or global level, making it very difficult to translate national goals into meaningful local actions. 2) Energy models are not contiguous across long planning horizons, making it very difficult to link historical performance to future goals. And 3) to maximize applicability, energy system models should be open-source, make their data publicly available, and accept user-generated data with no restrictions on data resolution. The FRED project tackles all these limitations to create an effective new approach to energy and climate planning.”
Mark Kenber, President of The Climate Group:
“Organizations such as The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency and almost all leading scientists agree that in order to tackle climate change, we must take ambitious action today to transform our energy system – a Clean Revolution in the way we produce and consume energy. This is a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for leaders from business and government to create a low carbon economy that generates lasting jobs, provides energy security and drives sustainable long-term growth. We know as a society where we need to go. What is more difficult is to choose the most effective options at any given moment and to know whether we are leading or lagging in the race to a low carbon, prosperous future. FRED helps governments plan and track progress to the ‘clean revolution’ by harnessing critical energy information and use this to compare the impacts of different strategies and policies. As such it will be an invaluable tool in catalyzing the actions we so clearly need.”