19 Aug Software Company Tackles Energy Shortage Issues
MADISON, WI – At our state’s current electricity-usage growth rate, we won’t have enough power in 15 years, according to the founder of a local educational software company. “With a 2.5 percent growth rate, if we don’t build more generation, we will not have enough energy to keep the lights on in 15 years, especially in this state,” said Deborah Still, founder of Blue Spark, LLC.
Paul Wilson, Ph.D, assistant professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, seconded Still’s prediction. “With a typical growth rate – 2.5, 2.4 or 1.9, they are usually somewhere in there – we will be 16,000 megawatts short,” Wilson said. “A big power plant has about 1,000 megawatts, so we’ll be 16 to 25 medium-to-big power plants short,” he said.
Blue Spark, in cooperation with professional engineer Paul Meier, Ph.D. and We The People, created EnergyED, a software program with a simulator that allows users to see how each power decision affects the supply. The program is marketed to utilities, businesses, policy makers and anyone involved in educating people about energy and power issues, Still said.
Users decide which resources they need to generate electricity– coal, clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar or biomass. As they modify the system, they see how pollution and consumer electric bills rise and fall. They also have to make sure there’s enough power to keep things running.
The simulator is has been used with success in large-forum gatherings where the public’s backgrounds are varied, Still said. They each bring their experiences to the table and provide a well-rounded discussion.
Wilson, who was involved as Meier’s advisor at the beginning of creating Energy ED, said the most important aspect of the software is its ability to show people that decisions are not easy. “It lets people who use it understand that there’s a trade-off,” Wilson said. “There’s no right answer. There’s only so much you can do. People are faced with difficult choices.”
Along with Energy ED, there are three other offerings: 110 Illumination Place, Generation Station and Power Grid, all slated to be released this fall, Still said. The software suite is offered to the same market, although Still said that since the blackout, consumers have contacted her wondering where they can buy the software.
When an event such as last week’s blackout occurs, Still said that people get the urge to know more. “People realize they are so behind the curve”; Still said. “They are naturally curious about it.”
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To learn more about Energy ED, take an interactive tour at www.energyedsoftware.com. The tour shows different variables the software allows users to change, affecting pollution emissions, electricity bills and whether or not there’s enough power for homes. An interactive tour for 110 Illumination Place is available starting today, as well, Still said.
Jennifer Braico is a freelance writer and a Wisconsin Technology Network contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.