The Habitable PlanetHabitable Planet home page

Interactive Labs

Energy Lab

Tools of the Simulator

Simulator Controls

Reset Button
Reverts back to Year 2000.
Run Decade
Simulates the progression of energy as determined by the parameters for ten years.
Stop Sign
When more energy is needed to meet the demand, a notice will appear next to the red stop sign symbol, letting you know how much more energy you need to supply.

Simulator Parameters

Adjust Energy Sources
Clicking on the notepad and pencil icon on the right will open up a window that allows you to alter any or all of the eight sources listed. There are four columns listed in the window: Source, %, Energy (TJ terajoules) and Adjust. For each source listed, the % column tells you what percentage of the total energy available is generated from that source. Rolling over any source row will show at the bottom of the window the maximum percentage increase/decrease allowance. Additional instructions may appear at the bottom of the window, such as "Need X EJ (exojoules) more energy" or "Please fine-adjust," which will prompt you to adjust your energy sources as needed. For further information on any of the energy sources, please see Unit 10.
Each slider next to an energy source adjusts how much of that energy source is being used, both in percent of total energy and in the amount of energy in terajoules (1012 J). Moving the green square, which represents the range of total energy possibly generated by that source per decade, to the left decreases the amount of energy generated by that source from the default numbers. Moving to the right increases the amount of energy generated by that source. If the square turns yellow, you have changed the parameters so that using that amount of energy from that source takes you into a dangerous situation, either economic or scientific. Take note of the hints given at the bottom of the window in order to readjust the use of that source to the greatest benefit. The box under the Energy heading will tell you how much energy you have chosen to use from each source. You may also click on the box and type in the amount of energy you choose to use.
OK: This button accepts the parameters you've selected for the energy sources and will then run the simulator according to those parameters. It will bring you back to the main simulator screen.
Cancel: This button brings you back to the main simulator screen without altering any parameters. The simulator will run numbers and approximations from whatever parameters were previously set.
Advanced Options
Clicking on the notepad and pencil icon on the right will open up a window that allows you to alter the conservation and carbon sequestration rates.
Energy demand change per year: This slider shows the percentage increase of the amount of energy needed to fill the demand set by humans each year. As populations and technologies requiring energy increase each year, so does the demand for energy. Use your mouse to slide the square left (fewer people require increases in energy) or right (more people need increases in energy). The box next to the slider shows what percentage increase of energy is required per year. You may also click on the box and type in a percentage increase.
Energy Efficiency change per year: This slider shows the percentage increase of the amount of energy conserved by humans each year. As we become more aware of the need for conservation, we find new ways to become energy efficient and waste less energy. Use your mouse to slide the square left (more energy is being used efficiently) or right (less energy is being used efficiently). The box next to the slider indicates the percentage change of energy efficiency per year. You may also click on the box and type in a percentage of energy efficiency.
Net Energy Demand Change: This tells you the net change in energy demand per year based on a mathematical relationship between the energy demand change per year (how much more we need) and the energy efficiency change per year (how much more we recycle/save).
Carbon Capture and Storage: This slider shows how much carbon is recaptured and stored each year (see Unit 13, Chapter 4—CCS) in gigatons (GT). Use your mouse to slide the square left (less CO2 being captured and stored) or right (more CO2 being captured and stored). The box next to the slider indicates how many gigatons of carbon dioxide are captured and stored per year. You may also click on the box and type in an amount of carbon capture and storage.
Auto-meet demand: Depending on the parameters set for energy demand, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage, when this boxed is checked, the simulator will alter how much energy is used from each source (in Adjust Energy Sources) in order to meet the demand. You may set the parameters in Adjust Energy Sources so that there is more energy generated than that which is required. The simulator will automatically use what is available to meet demands, which may mean that you can run several decades in a row without adjusting your energy sources.
Must meet demand: When this box is checked, you must adjust your energy sources so that the demand is met each year. You may set the parameters in Adjust Energy Sources so that there is more energy generated than that which is required. The simulator will automatically use what is available to meet demands, which may mean that you can run several decades in a row without adjusting your energy sources.
Enforce energy source maximums: When this box is checked, you will be notified when you are exceeding projected maximums on the Adjust Energy Sources window.
OK: This button accepts the parameters you've selected and will then run the simulator according to those parameters. It will bring you back to the main simulator screen.
Cancel: This button brings you back to the main simulator screen without altering any parameters. The simulator will run numbers and approximations using whatever parameters were previously set.

Energy/Yr (EJ exojoules) Graph

The Energy/Yr (EJ) graph shows the progression of energy supply and demand within your chosen parameters. The legend box may be moved by dragging it with your mouse. The y-axis is the energy supplied/needed each year and the x-axis is the year.

Demand
Represents the amount of energy needed each year in order to fuel all technologies and keep the world as we know it running.
Supply
Represents how much total energy is generated each year by all of the energy sources.
Now
The diamond on the line tells you what year it is at the current moment within the world of the simulator.

Atmospheric CO2 (ppm) Graph

The Atmospheric CO2 graph shows the amount of atmospheric carbon produced per year in parts per million (ppm). One ppm means that for every 999,999 particles in the air, one particle is carbon dioxide. The legend box may be moved by dragging it with your mouse. The y-axis is the amount of atmospheric carbon generated each year.

IS92a
Represents one of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) 1992 Supplement Report's six scenarios for how carbon emissions would likely develop in the future. Because of uncertainty in terms of population growth, economic growth, technological advances, responses to laws and restraints, and other human factors, six scenarios were developed, and IS92a is the most moderate of the six. This model assumes a modest population growth and modest economic growth and assumes that only those controls on emissions already enacted into law by 1992 would be obeyed. This model is called "business–as–usual," and while you are running your simulation, it will continue to project carbon emissions over the years with modest growth and modest controls on emissions.
CO2
Represents the amount of carbon emitted per year according to the parameters you set for running the simulator. As you change parameters, the slope and general shape of this line will change as well.
Now
The diamond on the line tells you what year it is at the current moment within the world of the simulator.
Goal
Refers to the goal of 550 ppm CO2, which would be twice the amount of atmospheric carbon in comparison to pre–industrial levels. The IPCC established this number as a goal, and at this number they hope that carbon emissions can be stabilized instead of continually rising, as they have done since the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
Show IS92a Reference CO2
When this box is checked, the IS92a line will appear on the graph as a light grey line.

© Annenberg Foundation 2014. All rights reserved. Legal Policy