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Exascale for Energy

Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources

According to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2006, renewable energy contributes only 6.8% to the present U.S. energy supply, as shown in Figure 20. Despite the modest percentage of energy currently supplied by renewables, ambitious state and national goals have been set for the future renewable energy supply. These goals include having hydrogen be a major contributor to future transportation fuel, producing sufficient biofuels to reduce gasoline usage by 20% in ten years, deploying market-competitive photovoltaic systems by 2015, and generating 20% of total U.S. electrical supply from wind energy by 2030.

Energy consumption by source and sector

Figure 20. U.S. primary energy consumption by source and sector, 2006 (quadrillion Btu). Source: EIA


Meeting these ambitious goals will require major technological advances. In response to these challenges, the DOE Office of Science (SC) and the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE) convened a workshop on Computational Research Needs for Alternative and Renewable Energy on September 19–20, 2007, in Rockville, Maryland. Discussions at the workshop made clear that realizing the potential for alternative and renewable energy will require robust computational capabilities—including ultrascale computing systems, scalable modeling and simulation codes, capacious data storage and informatics, and high-speed communication networks.

Four renewable energy technologies which can greatly benefit from computational research are discussed briefly below: hydrogen fuel, bioenergy conversion, photovoltaic solar energy conversion, and wind energy.


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