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New online application can help evaluate potential changes and their impact on CO2 output.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

A new easy-to-use energy calculator is helping users better understand the ways we produce and consume energy. Consistent, science-based data is readily available for users to customize their energy choices and set targets for carbon reduction within the next 40 years.

The online tool instantly visualizes and models the environmental impact of a user’s changes in energy supply and demand. The new resource can identify optimal solutions to help lower carbon emissions on both state and local levels, and ultimately achieve our nation’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Calculating Complex Energy Choices

The Energy Calculator was developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and is based on the models and algorithms from the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Energy Climate Change’s UK 2050 Energy Calculator.

The U.S. version of the tool is available through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN). It has intuitive sliders that give users the controls to build their own energy pathway with a focus on their specific interests and needs. Each slider represents a sector of the U.S. energy system. By adjusting inputs to energy supply and demand scenarios, the dynamic website offers instant visual feedback based on validated science.

Users can easily navigate complex interactions and variables to evaluate the environmental impact of changes in energy production and consumption behavior. Increasing or decreasing the levels of specific energy options demonstrates that modification’s overall impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

The calculator provides realistic trajectories that predict the choices and trade-offs faced when making decisions on energy forms. Detailed charts and graphs show the measurable impacts of the proposed energy changes and help users factor in carbon dioxide reduction targets. The user’s models can then be exported for broader collaboration and mapping out the best national or state energy pathway to an emission-free future.

“GAIN has an important role in supporting not only the U.S. nuclear industry, but other stakeholders such as investors and policy makers,” said GAIN Deputy Director Andrew Worrall. “This calculator is just one example of how we hope to help stakeholders in the decision-making process by providing authoritative, validated data through the means of an interactive tool.”

State leaders and industry have already shown interest in the Energy Calculator. By using this tool, users will have confidence in their science-backed data and models to move forward with their energy policy changes.

The energy calculator project is the result of GAIN funding and bilateral collaboration with the UK with support from the Office of International Nuclear Energy Policy and Cooperation.

GAIN was established by the Office of Nuclear Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy to provide the nuclear community with access to the resources and financial support necessary to accelerate the commercialization of innovative nuclear technologies. Learn more about GAIN’s achievements and funding opportunities HERE.