An interactive evaluation tool for engaging the general public with energy decision making


The public has an ever increasing interest in the social, environmental, and economic impacts of the global energy production. The Fukushima Daiichi accident brought renewed awareness to the international implications of nuclear energy. Techno-economic feasibility studies, however, show that to make marked impact on climate change, nuclear energy is a vital component of the overall electrical energy portfolio. To support informed decision making, the scientific community has a responsibility to communicate reliable and straight-forward information to the general public, in an engaging way, regarding energy systems and how choices made at different stages of an energy technology life cycle can impact the cost, amount of materials used, and waste produced.

In this project, we will develop an interactive electrical energy simulator through which users can interact with one another in their quest to develop an electrical energy portfolio such that economic (e.g., gross domestic product), environmental (e.g., reduced CO2 emissions), and social (e.g., public opinion expressed) impacts are optimized. Each user will be presented with a map of their state, given their starting electrical energy portfolio (e.g., based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration), and prompted to start taking action. Users will work individually and within the simulation community to meet target energy demands while limiting cost and environmental impact by adjusting their energy portfolio. Particular emphasis will be placed on the nuclear fuel cycle, comparing different fuel cycle technologies using the data from the Department of Energy Nuclear Fuel Cycle Options Catalog.

Funded by Department of Energy, Nuclear Energy University Program: $799,999