The importance of electricity generation was recently made all too real for our fellow Americans in Texas. During February 2021, the Texas’ electric grid teetered on the precipice of total collapse. In hindsight we have the opportunity for reflection, contemplation, and (hopefully) the means to take corrective action. C2 Labs recently had the opportunity to work on an innovative mobile application which may be a useful tool for those who are thinking about how to address our current and future energy needs.
The Department of Energy (DOE), via Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Gateway for Advanced Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program, engaged C2 Labs to develop a mobile application which shows near real-time electricity generation data for the United States. The app consumes data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and shows intuitive plots of electricity generation by type (natural gas, nuclear, etc.) and time range (prior day, week, etc.) with CO2 equivalents for fossil fuel sources. Collated daily from United States electricity grid operators, this data opens a window into the electricity grid that allows us to see exactly where our electricity comes from, when it is produced, and its potential impact on the climate. Presenting the data in this simple and intuitive manner allows us to compare the generation sources and make observations about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.
The rapid, transformative change that America is experiencing is no more easily demonstrated than by the public’s move towards electric vehicles (EVs) and away from internal combustion engine vehicles. Tesla alone forecasts sales of 900,000 EVs in 2021, an 80% increase year-over-year. Half of all vehicles sold by the end of the decade may be EVs. As hundreds of thousands of EVs are brought online every year, the energy overhead required to power that fleet will shift from the gas pump to the electricity grid. How will the grid accommodate the additional load as millions of EVs charge en masse overnight? In addition, if the sources for this electric power have a heavy CO2 footprint, then the expected benefits on greenhouse gas reduction may not materialize as envisioned.
The US Electricity Grid Monitor app developed by Jason Phillips, a principal software engineer at C2 Labs, helps DOE start the conversation with the public to answer this and other questions about our energy future. To successfully plan for the future, one must thoroughly understand the past and present, and the US Electricity Grid Monitor app clearly shows the facts regarding electricity generation in the United States today and over time.
While developing this app, C2 Labs had the privilege of working with the extremely helpful folks at the EIA, who so graciously assisted us in our work, provided access to their data, and helped us understand the datasets. It was our pleasure to work with the DOE’s GAIN Initiative who spearheaded the project in conjunction with ORNL and Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Their innovative ideas are constrained only by time and resources. We look forward to supporting their mission and helping them to realize more of their data visualization goals in future updates to the application.
At C2 Labs, we love helping our customers Digitally Transform and to deliver modern user experiences on mobile devices. If you would like to learn more about how C2 Labs can assist your organization with mobile application development, contact us today for a free consultation.